Casemiro’s Man United transfer from Real Madrid is second-biggest fee ever for a player over 30

Manchester United’s quick move to agree a deal to sign Casemiro this week made headlines, while the potential fee they will pay Real Madrid – sources told ESPN is initially £60m (€70m) a further £10m (€10m). 11 million) in add-ons – raised eyebrows at a player who turned 30 in February.

However, the deal doesn’t make the Brazilian midfielder the most expensive over-30 player ever. It’s his future United – and former Madrid – team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo who still holds that honor. Juventus finally paid a whopping €100m in July 2018 to sign Ronaldo, now 37, from Madrid.

The move was controversial at the time as many Madrid fans felt the club switched to their record goalscorer too soon. The Spanish giants had just won three consecutive Champions Leagues, a run followed by a four-year European drought after Ronaldo left, before lifting the trophy again for a 14th time last season.

Ronaldo scored 81 league goals in three years with Juventus and won Serie A in his first two seasons in Italy but failed to find success in continental competition and returned to former club United in 2021.

Casemiro – another Madrid exit – now holds second place on the list of most expensive over-30s as he faces the unenviable task of turning United’s season around after losing their opening two Premier League games.

He has overtaken a player whose transfer surprised many when announced by Barcelona in August 2020: Miralem Pjanic. The now 32-year-old Bosnia and Herzegovina playmaker signed from Juventus for a fee of €60m – while Brazil’s Arthur went the other way – in a deal that should help the club’s accounts as well as its performance on the pitch.

Pjanic made just six starts for Barca in 2020-21 and spent last season on loan at Besiktas, although he’s now back in the squad for 2022-23 for the time being.

Another Barcelona player Robert Lewandowski, is #4 on the list. The club paid Bayern Munich €45m to sign the 33-year-old two-time Golden Boot winner despite having just one year left on his contract.

He is succeeded by a player who has had a mixed reputation at the Camp Nou: the former Brazil midfielder Paulinho. The now 34-year-old made a confusing series of moves – joining Barcelona from Guangzhou Evergrande in 2017 for a €40m fee, returning to the Chinese club on loan a year later before returning for a €42m fee permanently signed for her .

Two veteran centre-backs sit sixth and seventh on the list, which is perhaps unsurprising as defenders tend to peak a little later in their careers. Leonardo BonucciThe now 35-year-old left Juventus – after seven years at the club – and joined Serie A rivals AC Milan for €42m in July 2017, only to return to Turin a year later while Chelsea snapped up Napoli Kalidou Koulibaly this summer for 40 million euros.

Another Italian club, Inter Milan, paid €38m to sign the Belgian midfielder Radja Nainggolan 2018 by Roma. He played just one season at San Siro before moving to Cagliari on loan.

We have to go back to 2000 for the next name on the list. The Serie A icon and legendary long-haired Argentine striker Gabriel Batistuta was arguably Fiorentina’s all-time greatest player before joining Roma for €36m, then a record fee for a player in his 30s. The fee was justified as his 20 league goals helped Roma win their first scudetto Still their last Serie A title in 18 years.

Rounding out the top 10 is the first goalie we mentioned. Valencia paid 35 million euros for the signing Jasper Cillessen from Barcelona in June 2019, in a deal that saw another goalkeeper, Neto, move the other way and – much like the Pjanic transfer – was as much about creative accounting as squad-building.

In fact, a common trait of several historic transfers in the top 10 over-30s is that they didn’t quite work as expected, ranging from just unconvincing to outright flops. United hope Casemiro is the exception. Casemiro’s Man United transfer from Real Madrid is second-biggest fee ever for a player over 30

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