11Jan
CC BY-NC the rik pics

Italian Serie A is a haven for footballers over 30

There are 564 players in the 5 major European leagues that are 30 years old or older. Well, at least that was the figure before the winter transfer window opened, now it might be slightly different.

In another blog post published a few weeks before Christmas I was surprised by the performance of mature Italian players and I promised to investigate if they grow old more gracefully than other nationalities. Well, I haven’t done a proper research this time, but I did have a look to the origin of these 564 players and, it’s true, there are lots of Italians!

Footballers in their 30s playing in major leagues

Defenders in Serie A

Serie A is the competition with the highest number of active players older than 30. They represent 26% of the total number of mature player in the 5 major leagues.

As you can see in the chart above, defenders are the most popular position for veteran footballers playing in Italy. Think in Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli from Juventus or Miranda from Inter Milan.

It’s interesting to see that Serie A players lead every single position except for midfielders, where Ligue 1 takes the lead, including names like Mathieu Valbuena (Olympique Lyon, aged 31) or Lassana Diarra (Olympique Marseille, aged 30)

Not even the veteran Premier League players are English

But where are all these players actually from? Which competition has more national players over 30? Well, there are quite big differences between leagues, as you can see in the chart below.

Nationality of players over 30

Ligue 1, La Liga and Serie A have a clear majority of national players, Bundesliga is divided in a perfect 1:1 ratio and in the Premier League there’s an overwhelming majority of veteran footballers from overseas.

But where these foreign players come from? The chart below shows the top 10 nationalities of players over 30. Outside the 5 countries we are analysing, Argentina and Brazil are the most popular origin.

Top 10 nationalities over 30

Summary

  • Serie A is the major European competition with the highest number of active players over 30
  • There are more footballers over 30 playing as defenders than in any other position
  • Less than 1 in 3 players over 30 in the Premier League are actually English
  • Italy is the country with more veteran players in the 5 major competitions, but most of them remain in Serie A.
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