Former Arsenal defender Mikael Silvestre has said that Arsene Wenger was right when he said that a player’s career at the top level is effectively over at the age of 34.
Wenger made the comments last month in the Arsenal Magazine while discussing how the likes of Robert Pires, Freddie Ljungberg, Nicolas Anelka and Silvestre have prolonged their careers in the newly-formed Indian Super League (click here to read more).
“You have two steps,” said the Frenchman. “Being completely at the top finishes when you are 34 at the latest.
"After that, you have different leagues like the MLS and the Indian league. I encourage players to play as long as possible if they really love it.
“Pires is 40 but he still plays and when he comes to training here, he’s still very good. They give a good image of the game.
“They can make football popular on different continents and in different countries, where it’s taking off. I think it’s fantastic.”
Silvestre, who was the books of Arsenal from 2008 until 2010 and also played for Manchester United, agrees with Wenger’s opinion.
“The players who can perform after such an age is very rare,” the former France international told HITC Sport. “Some of the notable exceptions are (Paolo) Maldini and (Ryan) Giggs.
“You can try with your heart but you can’t fight against nature. Especially the EPL is so physically demanding and played at such a high pace.
“You try to keep going with your knowledge and experience but it becomes difficult to recover.”
Now 37, Silvestre is playing for Chennaiyin FC in the Indian Super League, and he is determined to win the competition.
“If you enter a competition, it can’t be relaxed,’ he said. “When I enter a competition it is to win and compete with the best of my ability to bring success to my club. The conditions, heat and humidity and the travelling makes it even more demanding.”
When asked if the ISL can be as big as the MLS in the future, Silvestre said: “Yes, the ISL could become as big as the MLS but it will take a long time. The potential is there for sure.”