NORWICH, ENGLAND - Saturday, August 14, 2021: Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk (R) and Mohamed Salah (L) before the FA Premier League match between Norwich City FC and Liverpool FC at Carrow Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool have 11 first-team regulars past their peak age, new study claims

Liverpool face a challenge in overhauling their first-team squad in years to come, with a new study revealing that 11 regular starters are past the peak age for their position.

Not since 2018 have those within the Reds’ recruitment staff presided over a major influx of talent for the senior squad, with Alisson, Fabinho, Naby Keita and Xherdan Shaqiri all brought in that summer.

In the six transfer windows since then, only Takumi Minamino, Adrian, Andy Lonergan, Diogo Jota, Thiago, Kostas Tsimikas, Ben Davies, Ozan Kabak and Ibrahima Konate have been brought into the first-team setup.

Kabek and Lonergan have since left, while Davies is currently on loan with Sheffield United and unlikely to return for a long-term role.

Of those to play 500 or more minutes in all competitions so far this season, Tsimikas, Jota and Curtis Jones are the only players to have not been regulars during that 2018/19 campaign.

There is no doubt Klopp’s squad has aged and, despite the relative inactivity in the transfer market, an injection of youth is required to evolve.

In a study from The Athletic, considering a variety of trends over the past 10 Premier League seasons, the peak ages for each position have been determined – with 11 Liverpool players already past that.

James Milner (35) is, unsurprisingly, the furthest past his peak, with four other midfielders – Jordan Henderson (31), Thiago (30), Fabinho (28) and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (28) – grouped with him.

First-choice centre-back duo Virgil van Dijk (30) and Joel Matip (30) are also deemed past their peak, along with Andy Robertson (27).

But the most worrying situation comes with the long-term front three of Roberto Firmino (30), Mohamed Salah (29) and Sadio Mane (29).

Of those currently deemed in their peak, Alisson (29) and Naby Keita (26) are close to leaving that bracket, with Tsimikas (25), Minamino (26) and Divock Origi (26) the only others in peak age.

That leaves only nine squad regulars yet to reach their peak age: Jota (24), Jones (20), Konate (22), Trent Alexander-Arnold (22), Joe Gomez (24), Nat Phillips (24), Harvey Elliott (18), Neco Williams (20) and Caoimhin Kelleher (22).

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 25, 2021: Liverpool's Curtis Jones celebrates after scoring the third goal during the FA Premier League match between Brentford FC and Liverpool FC at the Brentford Community Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Three of those nine are centre-backs and two are right-backs, which further highlights the problem Liverpool could face in the future in terms of depth.

However, the likes of Tyler Morton, Conor Bradley and Kaide Gordon are not included in the study, with there being evidence of a transition in progress within the Reds’ youth ranks.

A players ‘peak’ is not clearly defined, of course, and there are a host of examples across European football of those who are defying age to continue performing at the very top level.

Salah seems the most likely of those in Liverpool’s first-team squad to emulate the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

But there is undoubtedly a need to revitalise Klopp’s ageing group before too late, with this current crop of players largely allowed to grow older together without a steady change in personnel.