The 2019/20 Liverpool side will be remembered as one of the most dominant teams that have ever played in the Premier League. The Reds have a 25 point lead ahead of City with 9 matches remaining. But what makes them so good?
There are many good answers to this question: Klopp – the perfect coach, top-quality players, strong chemistry within the club, tactics, and philosophy, data analysis based recruitment, etc. But there is a reason which doesn’t get talked about enough: the peak age concept.
The peak age concept
It’s obvious that the career of a football player doesn’t last forever. An average player can play probably 15-18 years of professional football in his life, but according to statistics, only around a 5-year gap will be considered as his peak. Most of the footballers will hit their prime between the age of 24-29 in general. This gap is the perfect mixture of youth (stamina and physicality) and experience (tactical awareness and mentality). Of course, there are early and late bloomers, but we are not talking about the extremes right now. If we can agree on the fact that 24-29 is the “peak age”, we could start to work with the data, analyze teams, and look for patterns.
The viz above represents the profile of the Liverpool squad, with the star marks representing footballers who are at their peak. Seems like the Reds have a ton of stars right? Indeed, Liverpool actually has the highest percentage of their minutes played by peak aged footballers, 76,64%. The league average in the Premier League is roughly 53%, which makes Liverpool’s number even more interesting.
This is surely not a coincidence…surprise, it’s not. Liverpool’s recruitment in the last couple of years was clear: buying players who are just entering their best years. Robertson, Firmino and Keita at 23, Salah, Mané and Fabinho at 24, Wijnaldum and Alisson at 25 and Van Dijk at 26.
The peak age concept is a very basic tool that you can use to analyze squad profiles. Obviously it’s not 100% accurate – 11 random players in their prime won’t get you too far without the chemistry and the tactics – but the next time a generational team rises, just remember this piece. They are probably at their peak for a reason.