March 22, 2023

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Dziuba is already 34. Can he score like before?

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We evaluate historical data.

“I feel like I’m 22, no more. I guess everyone says and feels that way, but I really don’t feel the age. In ten years, most likely, I will feel the same as now, ”said Dziuba in 2018, when he turned 30.

Since then, he has scored a few dozen more goals and won four titles in the RPL, but last season he turned sour at Zenit and left for a reboot in Turkey. Now Dziuba is 34, he will turn 35 in August, he is again in the Russian championship. Probably still does not feel the age.

According to the noise in the media, his transfer to Lokomotiv is the main deal of the winter. But is Dzyuba able to make noise on the field at 34 in the same way that he was noisy at 30, 31 or 32? Has he peaked? Will he be able to score 15-20 goals per season? Or 7 for the rest of the season? After all, Lokomotiv takes him precisely for this.

As in most other cases, the data on this question will not answer unambiguously. If they answered, it is unlikely that football would be so interesting. But, perhaps, they will orient how soon the sunset of Dzyuba’s career will come? Or has it already arrived?

Just in case, once again: we do not draw conclusions and understand the conventionality of calculations, because each player is individual, and we are looking at the big picture.

So, for starters, the main thing: when does a player reach the peak and how quickly does he age? Each position has its own specifics, now we are only interested in forwards. And only those who played in the Russian Championship (because this tournament also has its own specifics). And it is desirable that it is modern football with its speeds and pace that gets into the sample, while it is important that the data set is large. Therefore, let’s take the statistics, say, for 15 years – from the 2008 season. And let’s calculate how the minutes are distributed over the career of the average RPL forward.


The bars are the percentage of minutes of the total for the entire career. In other words, this is the age distribution of attackers by RPL. The yellow curve is the average playing time of an attacker in the RPL.


Everything is obvious: the peak age for a striker is 24-28 years old. It is during this period that the maximum playing time falls, at a 15-year distance, forwards of this age prevail in the league.

But! Pay attention to the yellow curve, it grows up to 25 years (that is, the young forward is trusted more and more every year), and then it almost does not fall (you should not pay attention to minor fluctuations). Why? Shouldn’t it fall along with the posts?

Not at all. The picture tells us that in the RPL the process of weeding out attackers begins as soon as they turn 29. But there is an important detail. The average playing time of those who did not drop out remains at the maximum level until at least 33 years old. This means that those forwards who have remained at the RPL level by the middle of the fourth decade play as much as the young ones. That is, forwards over 30 are considered as useful as 25-year-olds.

But only a few can remain at the RPL level by the age of 35. There were only 14 of these in the championship (Dzyuba will probably be 15th), for comparison: 25-year-olds – 120.

A naive question: does the performance of RPL forwards change with age? There is probably no direct correlation up to a certain point, given that those who have remained at the level of 35 play the same amount. But let’s check. Let’s leave the same bars, but instead of the playing time curve, we’ll plot the performance curve.

The idea is confirmed: the performance of forwards in the interval between 23 and 37 years plus or minus is at the same level, there are no stable trends in subsequent fluctuations.