Kalidou Koulibaly has sealed his £34million switch to Chelsea – and in the process he has become of the top ten most expensive transfers for players over 30.
The former Napoli defender, 31, will fill in for Antonio Rudiger, who recently moved to Real Madrid last month, looking to help Chelsea challenge Manchester City and Liverpool for the Premier League title next season.
Koulibaly may have entered his 30s but he has shown that Chelsea are willing to pay over the odds for an experienced and quality player to bolster their back line – and a number of Premier League have also been willing to splash the cash on veteran stars in the past too.
Sportsmail has taken a look back at the 10 most expensive signings of players over the age of 30 as Koulibaly looks to roll back the years at Stamford Bridge.
10. Chris Wood: £27m (Burnley to Newcastle United)
New Zealand striker Chris Wood begins the list, with his move from Burnley to Newcastle making him the Magpies’ 4th most expensive signing in history.
Newcastle – backed by their Saudi-backed millions – decided to pay Wood’s release clause despite Burnley being one of their relegation rivals in the hopes he would prove the difference in their survival fight.
However, Wood has got off to a slow start, scoring only two goals in 17 games for his new club. He hasn’t been short on minutes either, starting 15 of those 17 games. His hold up play has been important though despite his lack of goals as he featured prominently during Newcastle’s resurgence under Eddie Howe to beat the drop.
Wood’s form is a stark contrast to his Burnley days, where he scored 46 Premier League goals from 2017 – 2021, leaving Newcastle surely questioning if the 30-year-old was worth the hefty fee.
9. Mats Hummels: £27.5m (Bayern Munich to Borussia Dortmund)
World Cup winner Mats Hummels has taken a peculiar career path that has left him bouncing between two teams.
He started at Bayern Munich at 18, moved to Borussia Dortmund in 2009, then re-joined Bayern in 2016 before finally completed a £27.5m transfer back to Dortmund in 2019 when he was 31.
His second spell at Dortmund has been underwhelming, ridden by frequent short-term injuries.
Hummels himself admitted that he has seen a dip in his form, as he has struggled to balance his desire to play for the team against his need to rest and recover from his injuries.
=7. Leonardo Bonucci: £31.5m (AC Milan to Juventus)
Leonardo Bonucci initially left Juventus in 2017 for AC Milan for £37.5m aged 30 after a heated exchange with manger Max Allegri, both shouting profanities at each other after a 4-1 win against Palermo.
He returned from the Rossoneri one year later for £31.5m, but Allegri denied him his previous role of captain.
With his centre-back partner Giorgio Chiellini suffering an ACL injury at the beginning of the 2019-20 season, Bonucci was then re-awarded the captaincy and has made a vital contribution to the five trophies Juventus have won since his return.
=7. Jasper Cillesen: £31.5m (Barcelona to Valencia)
Jasper Cillesen was one of many underwhelming signings for Barcelona that were signed between 2018 and 2019, as they looked to rebuild their ageing squad and start from scratch.
Barcelona selling Cillesen to Valencia was certainly one of their finer pieces of business. The Dutchman was Barcelona’s backup keeper for three years, so it’s quite a mystery how they managed to receive £31.5m for him, especially at the age of 30m, given that they signed him for just £11m.
He only logged 32 appearances for Barca, often in unimportant cup ties. He’s since become a more frequent starter for Valencia and played 30 games in his first season with them – only two less than in his whole Barcelona career.
6. Gabriel Batistuta: £32.5m (Fiorentina to Roma)
After eight seasons and 150 goals for Fiorentina, potential suitors would have to break the bank if they wanted to sign Gabriel Batistuta.
Although he was at the back end of his prime at 33, Roma were willing to pay £32.5m for the Argentinian striker in 2000 and saw an instant return on their investment.
Batistuta became the most expensive signing of a player over 30, but lived up to his price tag, scoring 20 goals and leading Roma to the Serie A title in his first season.
5. Radja Nainggolan: £34m (Roma to Inter Milan)
Nainggolan had plenty of interest in 2018 but it is clear in hindsight that Inter gave up way too much for it.
The fee for the Belgian was £34m, as well as Davide Santon and Nicolo Zaniolo, who is arguably the brightest talent in Italian football right now.
On top of this, Inter only received one season of service – and 4 games in 2020-21 – before Nainggolan went to Cagliari on loan.
Inter will been kicking themselves after watching Zaniolo shine as he helped Jose Mourinho’s men win European silverware with Roma last season – the UEFA Conference League – wondering what could’ve been.
=3. Leonardo Bonucci: £37m (Juventus to AC Milan)
Leonardo Bonucci was one of 15 signings that AC Milan made during their 2017 summer spending spree (and the most expensive).
The hopes were high for this Milan team, but chaos soon ensued, with the club being found guilty of breaching Financial Fair Play regulations, whilst also displaying poor performances on the pitch.
Bonucci would only provide a year of service to the Rossoneri before moving back to Juventus. The centre-back spoke openly to the media about his ‘poor decision’ to leave Juventus for Milan. With a short and disappointing cameo at AC Milan, this transfer can safely be jotted down as unsuccessful.
=3. Paulinho: £37m (Barcelona to GZ Evergrande)
Ex-Spurs midfielder Paulinho was impressive during his one season return to Europe after abruptly leaving Spurs in 2015 to play in China with Guangzhou Evergrande.
It didn’t take him long to scratch his competitive itch and return to Barcelona in 2017 – signing for around £37m at the age of where he played alongside Iniesta and Ivan Rakitic and managed to win the La Liga with the team.
However, his stay was short-lived after opting to move back to play with GZ Evergrande in the summer of 2018. He played a big part in winning the league for Barcelona after joining for around £36m as he played 49 times and scored nine goals.
But despite his solid performances he was sent back to Guangzhou on loan – with the Chinese club having an option to make the move permanent for £37m – which they exercised the following January.
It was tidy business from Barcelona, who managed to get a solid year of service out of Paulinho, while paying hardly anything for it.
2. Miralem Pjanic: £54m (Juventus to Barcelona)
Miralem Pjanic left Juventus for Barcelona in the summer of 2020. Barcelona paid £54m for Pjanic, while Juventus paid £68.4m for former Barca midfielder Arthur to come the other way.
Neither signing hit the ground running, but it’s safe to say Pjanic, aged 30 at the time, fared the worst out of the two. Not only did Barcelona take on his heavy contract in the midst of financial issues, but they also received a player that’s five years older than the one they gave away.
Arthur hasn’t exactly stolen the headlines for Juventus either, but he has displayed bright signs in his two seasons there and will continue to improve with age.
However, Pjanic – who spent last season on loan at Besiktas – is reaching the end of his effective years, and is currently the third option in his position, behind Frenkie De Jong and Sergio Busquets.
1. Cristiano Ronaldo: £105m (Real Madrid to Juventus)
Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus is certainly their biggest transfer in history. The question ‘Did he do his job?’ yields varying answers.
On one hand, he provided Juventus with consistent goals after joining aged 33 in 2018, scoring 101 goals in 134 games. These stats rivalled Europe’s best forwards.
But the dreamers amongst us expected the Ronaldo of Real Madrid to appear – ‘Mr. Champions League’. Unfortunately, the Portuguese number 7 only treated the Juventus faithful to a quarter-final appearance on Europe’s biggest stage.
It can be ultimately said that the main aim of Ronaldo’s arrival was unmet – he failed at leading Juventus to a Champions League title and it is, for that reason, difficult to call his time at the club a success.