Once viewed as the age where a player begins to decline, modern football’s science has allowed players to continue flourishing well into their thirties.
Some of the Premier League’s finest footballers at present have passed their 30th birthdays, but continue to shine despite the notorious rigours and demands of England’s top division.
Father Time will no doubt catch up with this collection of top talents, but for now these over 30s remain some of the best in the business.
Here is our Premier League’s best XI of players aged over 30.
Goalkeeper: David de Gea – Manchester United
David de Gea leads the Premier League’s best goalkeepers aged 30 or above, with the Manchester United shot-stopper having now been one of the division’s best for a decade.
Despite a mixed period in recent seasons, the Spaniard has underlined his importance to the Red Devils already this season with brilliant match-winning saves to secure three points at Wolves and West Ham.
Coming up clutch 😎👏
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) September 20, 2021
Named in the PFA Team of the Year on five occasions and a record four-time winner of Manchester United’s Player of the Season accolade, De Gea remains a crucial component of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s squad and edges Hugo Lloris and Kasper Schmeichel for a place in this side.
Right-back: Kyle Walker – Manchester City
Kyle Walker remains one of the Premier League’s leading right-backs, having enjoyed a wealth of success since signing for Manchester City four seasons ago.
The 31-year-old has won three league titles since leaving Tottenham for the Etihad, whilst remaining an important part of Gareth Southgate’s plans with England at international level.
Walker’s blistering pace and athleticism remains a huge part of his game despite his advancing years, though his tutelage under Pep Guardiola has added several strings to his bow.
Centre-back: Thiago Silva – Chelsea
Thiago Silva is the oldest player to feature in our XI, with the Brazilian remaining an important figure at Chelsea despite celebrating his 37th birthday earlier this month.
Paris Saint-Germain’s decision to allow the veteran to leave has been Chelsea’s gain, the arrival of Silva at Stamford Bridge providing the west Londoners with leadership and experience in winning major honours.
POV: You're trying to get past Thiago Silva 🥶 pic.twitter.com/XQnFz03rLq
— Goal (@goal) September 20, 2021
Chelsea have compiled the best defensive record in Europe’s major leagues since Thomas Tuchel’s appointment as head coach in January, and Silva has shown his worth in the centre of an often impregnable back three,
Centre-back: Virgil van Dijk – Liverpool
Virgil van Dijk’s return from injury has provided Liverpool with a major boost this season, having seen the influential Dutchman sidelined for much of the previous campaign with a serious knee injury.
Van Dijk was widely regarded as the world’s best centre-back before his injury setback and has made a huge difference to the Reds over the opening weeks of the season, even if last weekend’s pulsating 3-3 draw with Brentford proved he’s still not quite up to full speed.
When available however, he is arguably the first name on Jurgen Klopp’s team sheet, a domineering defensive presence and amongst the most difficult Premier League opponents.
His regular centre-back partner, Joel Matip, can count himself unfortunate to miss out on selection, with the 30-year-old having returned from his own injury spell in fine form.
Left-back: Cesar Azpilicueta – Chelsea
The presence of Marcos Alonso and Ben Chilwell has meant Cesar Azpilicueta has not occupied the left-back role on too many occasions of late, but the Chelsea captain takes our position on the flank given a lack of stand-out alternatives.
Whether featuring in either full-back position or as part of three central defenders, Azpilicueta has spent almost a decade being amongst the west Londoners most dependable performers.
Chelsea managers have come and gone in recent seasons, but Azpilicueta has remained. Constant, committed, and regularly amongst the best performers on any given weekend.
Midfield: N’Golo Kante – Chelsea
Kante has shown few signs of slowing down despite celebrating his 30th birthday in March, with the midfielder’s performances in last season’s Champions League emphasising his status as one of the best of his era.
The France international’s all-acton performances saw him named as man of the match in four consecutive knockout stage ties, including both legs of the semi-final against Real Madrid and the final win against Manchester City in Porto.
Chelsea are a weaker side in his absence and his impact was evident during the Blues’ win over Tottenham earlier this month, coming off the bench to inspire a dominant second-half showing from Thomas Tuchel’s side.
Midfield: Thiago Alcantara – Liverpool
Thiago Alcantara’s first season at Liverpool was disrupted through injuries and the absences of key personnel elsewhere across the pitch, but with the Reds’ stocks replenished hopes are high that the Spaniard can stamp his authority on Jurgen Klopp’s midfield.
His form during the run to Champions League qualification was impressive, whilst the underlying statistics showcase his importance when selected, with his attributes bringing better balance at both ends of the pitch.
Thiago ranks first and second respectively amongst Liverpool players for ball recoveries and tackles per 90, whilst he leads his teammates for progressive passes and passes into the final third.
Having been one of the best midfielders in Europe across the past decade at Bayern Munich, Thiago has the quality and pedigree to aid Liverpool’s pursuit of the title this season.
Midfield: Kevin De Bruyne – Manchester City
Winner of the PFA Player of the Year award in each of the past two campaigns, Kevin De Bruyne has been the Premier League’s stand-out performer in recent seasons.
De Bruyne has set incredible standards across his time at Manchester City, becoming the fastest player in Premier League history to reach 50 assists and entering the division’s all-time top 10 for goals created last term.
The Belgium international possesses unrivalled vision and crossing ability in comparison to his Premier League peers, registering 18, 16, 20 (a joint-record) and 12 assists across the past four seasons – the latter enough to see him coronated as the league’s best once again despite an injury-disrupted campaign.
Right-wing: Riyad Mahrez – Manchester City
Riyad Mahrez was brought to Manchester City from Leicester to provide match-winning moments and after an initial bedding in period has regularly showcased his ability to do so.
The Algerian has provided 82 goal involvements in 152 appearances for City, with Mahrez having often tormented left-backs as he drifts inside dangerously to score goals from all angles and distances.
The 30-year-old was a crucial figure in City’s run to a maiden Champions League final last season, coming up clutch during knockout stage victories over both Borussia Dortmund and PSG.
Despite finding himself somewhat out of favour across the opening weeks of the season, Mahrez has still mustered four goals from four starts and his unpredictability adds a different dynamic to the Premier League champions.
Left-wing: Cristiano Ronaldo
Ronaldo finds himself more commonly in central areas these days, but in the need for balance we’ve pushed the five-time Ballon d’Or winner to a familiar position on the left of our attack.
Ronaldo’s return to Manchester United this summer was one of the stories of the transfer window, the former favourite eyeing one last shot at glory with the side where he emerged as a superstar.
The 36-year-old last failed to score 20+ league goals in a season during the 2008/09 campaign and has netted four times in four starts since making his Premier League return.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi top both the goals and assists charts.
We'll never see a duo quite like it. 🐐🐐 pic.twitter.com/IZyVxvFTh8
— 90min (@90min_Football) September 28, 2021
Whilst not quite the unstoppable buccaneering force of old, Ronaldo remains as clinical as ever and will be hoping to follow last season’s leading scorer award in Serie A with the Premier League’s Golden Boot this time around.
Forward: Jamie Vardy
Jamie Vardy remains Leicester’s talisman even into the latter stages of an incredible career, with the 34-year-old having began the new season with a flurry of goals.
Vardy leads the Premier League’s scoring charts alongside Michail Antonio and Mohamed Salah with five goals for the campaign already, as the evergreen Foxes forward looks to reclaim the Golden Boot accolade he won in 2019/20.
Most goals scored in the Premier League so far this season:
◉ Jamie Vardy (5)
◉ Michail Antonio (5)
◉ Mohamed Salah (5)
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 27, 2021
Vardy has tailored his game in recent seasons whilst remaining as lethal as ever when presented with goalscoring opportunities, his constant presence on the shoulder of defenders a nightmare for even the division’s best.