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Maximilian Kilman’s six-year stint at Molineux is over, with the defender now part of West Ham United on a permanent transfer.

Kilman, 27, enjoyed a successful run with Wolves after joining in 2018. Initially part of the academy, he quickly showcased his potential from his non-league days.

Signed cheaply from Maidenhead United following Wolves’ Premier League promotion, Kilman spent a year in the Molineux academy, regularly playing for Rob Edwards’ under-23 team.

In the 2018/19 season, Kilman was among the captains of the under-23 side, which got promoted to the top tier of youth football. He also trained with the first-team under Nuno Espirito Santo, growing into a reliable Premier League centre-back.

Kilman contributed to Wolves’ Europa League quarter-final run, notably in wins over Slovan Bratislava and Besiktas. His role on the pitch and in the dressing room grew each season.

During the 2022/23 season, Kilman missed just one Premier League game, occasionally filling in as captain for Ruben Neves. Following Neves’ exit, he became the permanent skipper.

In his only season with the armband, Kilman was one of just two outfield players to play every minute of Premier League football, consistently bolstering Gary O’Neil’s defence.

Kilman made a mark at the club both on and off the pitch, leading the dressing room and serving as an ambassador for Wolves Foundation.

Now, after six years that saw him rise from academy hopeful to club captain, Kilman moves to the London Stadium for a new challenge.


Wolves were hesitant to let their captain go, but West Ham’s offers eventually became too good to refuse.

Last summer, Wolves needed to raise funds to stay within profitability and sustainability rules. Some people in the club suggested selling Kilman. Selling him for £30 million would have been almost pure profit since he was bought for just £40,000 from Maidenhead six years ago. However, Wolves decided his value to the team—ball control, professionalism, speed, and good injury history—was worth more.

A year later, their financial situation is better, but the profit from Kilman’s sale is too large to ignore. Wolves believe they can find a replacement for Kilman and still come out ahead financially.


West Ham are getting a homegrown left-sided centre back. Kilman excels in reading the game and handling the ball, but his reliability is also a major asset. Kilman can help West Ham play from the back — a style their defenders struggled with last season. 

Max would certainly bring leadership qualities into the West Ham dressing room, he was Wolves captain. However he has come under some criticism from Wolves fans for not being at the forefront of leadership on the pitch and other players have sometimes stepped in.

The centre-back played every minute of Wolves’ Premier League 2023-24 season and started 37 out of 38 games the previous season. He’s almost always fit, giving West Ham great value for their money.

However, he has some weaknesses. Despite his 6ft 3in (194cm) height, he doesn’t always use his physical strength effectively. He performs better when partnered with a defender who enjoys the physical battles with strong strikers. When Kilman has to take on that role himself, he can struggle.


Wolves have been eyeing potential centre-back targets all summer, given the uncertainty around Kilman and, to a lesser degree, Yerson Mosquera. With Kilman set to leave, Wolves will seriously ramp up their search, expecting to bring in at least one replacement for their departing captain.

Nico Elvedi, a 27-year-old from Borussia Monchengladbach and Switzerland international, tops the list. Elvedi was close to joining Wolves a year ago, but they opted for Santiago Bueno from Girona instead. Elvedi, who signed a new contract until 2027 last September, is believed to have an £8.5 million release clause.

Wolves have also shown interest in Thomas Beelen from Feyenoord. They have kept an eye on David Carmo  from Porto and Hull City’s Jacob Greaves, who Ipswich is keen on. They might sign two centre-backs, but Mosquera, who finished last season strong on loan at Villarreal in La Liga, will have a chance to impress during pre-season.



“It’s bittersweet for me, having brought Max in, but it feels like a deal which works for everybody. We’re getting a good fee and unbelievable return on investment, West Ham are getting a homegrown left-sided centre back and it’s a good story for Maidenhead. While it was tough, it also allows Max to get closer to his family in London.

“He’s unbelievably laid back and has always been a man of few words. He had a tough couple of years personally, but the way he handled it and didn’t let it affect him leaves you slightly in awe. He’s someone you can’t help but root for. I don’t know anyone at the club who would have a negative word about him. Maybe people will realise what he did on the pitch more now he’s left than when he was here.

“It’s one we talked about a lot. It felt like the right thing for everybody. It enables us to look at the market and enables someone else to become a leader. When you lose anybody, it allows other people to become leaders, and that’s any team in the world. We have Yerson coming back, Santi is still relatively new and Toti is developing.

“It could be that someone here steps up or we go into the market with these funds. It’s exciting what we can do, and we’d be looking to bring someone in who move us forward. Although it’s tough, it creates opportunities and that’s always exciting.”

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