Ranked! The 10 most expensive transfers for players over 30 EVER

Chris Wood - The 10 most expensive transfers for players over 30 EVER
(Image credit: Getty)

It's a strange old world with the Premier League's killer kiwi is joining the 10 most expensive transfers for players over 30 ever. Honestly, you think you're going to get Kylian Mbappe… and you end up with Chris Wood. 

That'll teach Newcastle fans for dreaming. We kid of course, Chris – it could well be a smart move from the Magpies to stave off relegation, not least because it weakens Burnley as a direct rival.

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Still, the fee means that Wood is the tenth-most expensive over-30 ever. This is a list full of stars bought by owners who have clearly never played Football Manager

10. Chris Wood: £27m (Burnley to Newcastle United)

Wood's in at no.10, as Eddie Howe flexes the Toon's financial muscle with a £27m purchase just days after buying fellow 30-something, Kieran Trippier.

The £27m that the Magpies have dropped at Burnley's door is over 10 times what Leeds United paid for the forward when they signed him for just £2.5m in 2015 when Wood was 23. But Burnley paid a lot for Wood, too.

The fee was believed to be around £15m when the Clarets broke their transfer record for Wood. Newcastle's successful bid is apparently nothing more than matching the release clause: so you can't even accuse the newly-loaded Magpies of paying over the odds.

9. Mats Hummels: £27.5m (Bayern Munich to Borussia Dortmund)

Mats Hummels

(Image credit: PA Images)

Mats Hummels' career path reads as follows: Bayern to Dortmund to Bayern to Dortmund. 

The World Cup winner broke yellow hearts when he left BVB to rejoin Bayern Munich in 2016 at the peak of his powers. Hummels was unsurprisingly branded a snake by many Dortmund fans – but he did rejoin a former club for the second time in his career in 2019, when he came back to Signal Iduna Park for another spell.

The second coming has been rather less impressive than the first. Bayern sold the defender at a slight loss – but they did at least see the best of him in Bavaria. 

=7. Leonardo Bonucci: £31.5m (AC Milan to Juventus)

Leonardo Bonucci

(Image credit: PA)

Yeah, this really happened. In 2017, AC Milan went on one of the maddest spending sprees that Europe had ever seen – and that's impressive, even for Milan – bringing in the likes of Lucas Biglia, Hakan Calhanoglu, Ricardo Rodriguez and Andre Silva.

Heading the star signings was Juventus star Leonardo Bonucci, who was back then probably the best defender in the world. Bonucci left after a massive row with Max Allegri was almost immediately instated as captain at I Rossoneri, as the club looked to get back into the Champions League at long last and challenge Juventus's dominance. 

Following Bonucci's balls-up, however, (spoilers: see more on that below) Juventus were more than happy to retrieve the defender from his midlife crisis. Not that Max Allegri forgave him when he too came back to Turin for a second spell. 

"Bonucci left for one season, he made that decision, so if he wants the captain’s armband he must buy it and play with it in the street," the Italian boss said. Savage.

=7. Jasper Cillesen: £31.5m (Barcelona to Valencia)

Jasper Cillesen

(Image credit: PA)

Back in the days of Barcelona's heady spending – 2016, to be precise – Jasper Cillesen was brought in as a £13m back-up to Marc-Andre Ter Stegen from Ajax, along with the likes of the highly-rated Denis Suarez and Andre Gomes for £35m as part of a big rebuild.

But it wasn't a sensible one. Paco Alcacer was a £30m flop, Lucas Digne didn't last long and the promising Alen Halilovic turned out not to be the next Xavi – and is now at Reading. In 2019, Cillesen was flogged along with Suarez and Gomes, as Barca looked to recoup their losses.

Still, how did the Catalans manage to finesse £35m from Valencia? They've made some awful transfer dealings in recent years but fair play on that one. 

6. Gabriel Batistuta: £32.5m (Fiorentina to Roma)

Gabriel Batistuta, Roma

(Image credit: Getty)

It was always going to take something special to pry Gabriel Batistuta away from Fiorentina.

The Argentinian striker became a legend at the Florence outfit, netting 167 league goals in nine years and dazzling with that mane. When Roma came calling in 2000, he was still in his prime – but Fiorentina wanted a lot for their talisman.

The fee paid for Batigol became the highest ever for a player over the age of 30 but the man himself more than repaid it with 20 goals, as Roma delivered the title in 2000/01. There are some things that are worth all that money.

5. Radja Nainggolan: £34m (Roma to Inter Milan)

Radja Nainggolan

(Image credit: PA)

Who sanctioned this deal, exactly?

Radja Nainggolan was a ball of energy in his peak. Dynamic, intense and brilliant going forward or backwards, the Belgian became one of the most coveted midfielders in Serie A at his peak. But not only did Inter Milan pay a whopping £34m for player, they included Davide Santon and Nicolo Zaniolo in the deal.

Nainggolan was at Inter for a season until he turfed out to Cagliari on loan, while Zaniolo – still just 22 – is one of the most sought-after prospects in Italian football. You dropped the ball on this one, lads. 

=3. Leonardo Bonucci: £37m (Juventus to AC Milan)

Leonardo Bonucci

(Image credit: PA)

Him again. 

Bonucci was actually the costliest purchase of Milan's madcap trolly dash of 2017 (see above), which ended in disaster. Unsurprisingly, none of the new signings actually gelled that well together, with Vicenzo Montella being sacked as manager before fan favourite Rino Gattuso took the reins.

Centre-back Bonucci has since spoken openly about what a mistake it was to go to the San Siro, while Milan were understandably taken to task by UEFA for such wild spending and banned from European competition. Incredibly, the seven-time European champions paid close to £40m for a defender this long in the tooth. It's safe to say it didn't work out. 

=3. Paulinho: £37m (Barcelona to GZ Evergrande)


(Image credit: PA)

Is it just FFT that still isn't quite sure what happened between 2017 and 2019 in the life and times of Brazilian midfielder, Paulinho?

The serviceable Spurs water-carrier unspectacularly scurried off to the Chinese Super League in 2015, we assumed, to never be heard of again. Yet two years later, Barcelona were hitting his release clause – and not only did he link up in a midfield with Ivan Rakitic and Andres Iniesta, he was actually quite good. 

As strangely as he arrived, Paulinho left just a year later in a loan with an exorbitant obligation. We may never truly know why the midfielder graced us with that final season in Europe before shuffling back into the shadows but we're sort of glad he did.

2. Miralem Pjanic: £54m (Juventus to Barcelona)

Miralem Pjanic

(Image credit: Getty)

This might be the height of Barcelona's silliness when it comes to transfers. For some reason, the Catalans decided to drop over £50m on 30-year-old deep-lying playmaker Miralem Pjanic, with Arthur Melo heading in the opposite direction for a similar fee.

Some have claimed that the move was purely a book-balancing exercise – and Pjanic's time in Spain may certainly testify to that. Formerly excellent at Juventus, Roma and even Lyon, the Bosnian was so woefully ineffective – not least because he had both Sergio Busquets and Frenkie De Jong in the pecking order ahead of him.

Now thriving at Besiktas on loan, perhaps even he regrets the move. One wonders how a player with such incredible vision didn't see what everyone else could, mind.

1. Cristiano Ronaldo: £105m (Real Madrid to Juventus)

Cristiano Ronaldo

(Image credit: Getty)

This was supposed to be the catalyst. The serial winners of Italian football had everything else in place to take the next step and win the Champions League: except that ruthless machine in front of goal. 

And the £100m or more that Cristiano Ronaldo costs would surely be made up in marketing, too. CR7 smashed the previous record for an over-30 and signalled a new dawn for Juve… but it wasn't exactly the one they pictured.

During Ronaldo's three years in Serie A, the Old Lady were knocked out of Europe by Ajax, Lyon and Porto, ditching Max Allegri for Mauricio Sarri, before he was replaced by Andrea Pirlo. The Scudetto dynasty stopped at nine on the trot and the Portuguese superstar quietly exited by the back door for Manchester United. 

Newcastle: learn from the mistakes of strapping yourselves to expensive over-30s…

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Mark White
Staff Writer

Mark White has been a staff writer on FourFourTwo since joining in January 2020, writing pieces for both online and the magazine. An encyclopedia of football shirts and boots knowledge – both past and present – Mark has also been to the FA Cup and League Cup finals for FFT and has written pieces for the mag ranging on subjects from Bobby Robson's season at Barcelona to Robinho's career. He once saw Tyrone Mings at a petrol station in Bournemouth but felt far too short to ask for a photo.