Who are the most expensive Italian footballers of all time?
Sandro Tonali has been catapulted onto the list of the most expensive Italian players after completing a €70m move to Newcastle. Even given the ever-increasing nature of transfer fees, the deal represents a sizeable purchase from Newcastle as the Premier League side flex their financial muscle.
Tonali’s exit from AC Milan is also a record sale for the Rossoneri, a club who, historically, have been more used to signing stars than selling them.
Following Tonali’s transfer to St James’ Park, we’ve looked at the most expensive Italian players in history – all figures in equivalent to euros paid at that time.
Ranking the most expensive Italian players of all time.
Federico Chiesa – Fiorentina to Juventus (€40m)
Federico Cheisa incurred the wrath of the Fiorentina faithful after leaving La Viola for rivals Juventus.
Chiesa signed an initial two-year loan deal with Juventus, who activated their €40 million (£34m) purchase option on the winger after an impressive period with the Bianconeri.
Chiesa scored 14 goals in all competitions during his debut campaign to earn inclusion in the Serie A Team of the Year, before starring as Italy won the European Championship that summer.
The 25-year-old’s progress was halted after an ACL injury curtailed his second campaign in Turin and he made just six league starts last season after a patient approach was taken to his return from a 10-month absence.
Leonardo Bonucci – Juventus to AC Milan (€42.5m)
AC Milan spent €42.5m to sign Leonardo Bonucci from divisional rivals Juventus in 2017, with the centre-back named as club captain soon after arriving at the San Siro.
Bonucci formed part of a remarkable recruitment drive for Milan that saw the club splash out around €180m on new arrivals, but the move failed to work out as hoped. Milan ended the season sixth in the Serie A table to miss out on Champions League football and Bonucci was allowed to depart at the end of the campaign.
The defender re-signed for Juventus as part of a swap deal that saw Mattia Caldara head in the opposite direction, with each player valued at €35m. Bonucci has made 502 appearances across two spells at Juventus and has won eight Serie A titles with the club.
Christian Vieri – Lazio to Inter Milan (€49m)
Inter Milan signed Christian Vieri in a then-world record deal from Lazio in the late nineties, whose nomadic and prolific early career saw the forward sign for a ninth club in just nine seasons.
Vieri’s transfer to Inter ahead of the 1999/2000 campaign equated to around £32m at that time, but in euros makes him the fourth most expensive Italian of all time more than two decades later.
— MUNDIAL (@MundialMag) July 12, 2020
Vieri settled in the colours of the Nerazzurri and spent six seasons at the San Siro, in which he scored 123 goals in 190 appearances to cement his reputation as one of Europe’s great goalscorers.
He ended the 2002/03 campaign as Serie A’s leading scorer to win the Capocannoniere award after scoring 24 league goals in just 23 appearances.
Gianluigi Buffon – Parma to Juventus (€52m)
Gianluigi Buffon’s status as the world’s most expensive goalkeeper lasted almost two decades after the shot-stopper signed for Juventus for a fee of €52m in 2001.
Buffon had formed part of a Parma team during the late nineties that challenged the established elite, where he won a Coppa Italia and UEFA Cup double during the 1998/99 campaign.
The honours continued to arrive after his big-money move to Turin, as Buffon won 10 league titles across two spells with the club punctuated by a single season at Paris Saint-Germain.
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) June 8, 2020
No player has made more Serie A appearances for the club than Buffon (489), while only Alessandro del Piero has featured for the club in all competitions (705) more often than Buffon (685).
A record-breaking 13-time winner of Serie A’s Goalkeeper of the Year award, Buffon’s career has been one of incredible longevity and success. An all-time goalkeeping great.
Jorginho – Napoli to Chelsea (€57m)
Chelsea secured the signing of Jorginho in a deal worth an initial €57m in 2018, with the midfielder reuniting with former Napoli manager Maurizio Sarri at Stamford Bridge.
Jorginho overcame a difficult start to contribute to Chelsea’s success during his four-and-a-half year spell in west London, a period which saw the Blues win the Europa League and Champions League.
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) March 25, 2022
Jorginho was named as UEFA Men’s Player of the Year for the 2020/21 campaign after helping Chelsea to Champions League success and forming part of the Italy team that won the European Championship, with his performances later recognised with a third-place finish in the Ballon d’Or vote.
After 213 appearances for Chelsea, he signed for London rivals Arsenal in a £12m deal in January 2023.
Sandro Tonali – AC Milan to Newcastle (€70m)
Sandro Tonali is now the most expensive Italian footballer of all time after completing a €70m move to Newcastle United.
Tonali has become the Magpies’ marquee arrival as the club prepare for Champions League football next season and arrives with a burgeoning reputation after three impressive seasons at AC Milan.
✍️ We are delighted to announce the signing of Sandro Tonali from @acmilan.
The 23-year-old joins the Magpies for an undisclosed fee and has agreed a contract at St. James’ Park initially until 2028.
Welcome to Newcastle United, Sandro! 🇮🇹 pic.twitter.com/BbxrNUzVNo
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) July 3, 2023
Tonali has earned comparisons to Andrea Pirlo given his Brescia and Milan links, hairstyle, and elegance in a regista role in front of the back four and formed part of the Milan team that won Serie A in 2021/22.
He impressed as the Rossoneri reached the Champions League semi-finals last season and will add European experience to a Newcastle side preparing to feature in the competition for the first time since 2002/03.
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