Big money, big potential: football’s most expensive teenagers

The hype around teenage footballers seems only to be getting greater in recent years as transfer fees become more and more inflated and football becomes ever more global.

The ability to see any player’s highlights with a few clicks makes life easier for clubs to drive up prices and with everyone able to scout the same players, bidding wars soon start.

This summer there’s every chance the likes of Kylian Mbappe or Gianluigi Donnarumma could break world transfer records at the young age of just 18, whereas in the past they may have slipped under the radar.

In contrast, in 1997 Arsenal were able to sign Nicolas Anelka for just £500k from PSG despite the French striker being viewed as one of the hottest prospects in world football.

Teams, however, have in fairness, always been paying big bucks for young talents, the likes of Antonio Cassano and Javier Saviola made big money moves at the turn of the century, their transfer fees being higher than ones paid for the likes of Thierry Henry, Ruud van Nistelrooy or Andriy Schevchenko, who moved around the same time period.

For some, their moves at a young age have more than paid off, Wayne Rooney’s 13 years with Manchester United has seen him usurp Sir Bobby Charlton as their highest ever goalscorer whilst Gabriel Jesus could become Manchester City’s first choice centre-forward for the foreseeable future.

For others, it was too much too soon, their careers may still yet be in their infancy but for Renato Sanches and Luke Shaw their times at the club’s that spent those massive fees could be coming to an end sooner rather than later.

Below are the ten most expensive teenagers in world football, with Gabriel Jesus just knocking off three-time UEFA Champions League winning captain Sergio Ramos from the list whose move to Real Madrid in 2005 for €27m was the tenth spot on the list.


Whilst some of these players repaid their massive fees, others were rather disappointing; it’s too late for the likes of Saviola and Casino, whose careers are over, or look to be over in the case of the Italian.

However, despite their disappointing seasons at Bayern Munich and Manchester United, Sanches and Shaw could easily turn their careers around, even if the latter might have to do it away from Old Trafford, away from the ire of Jose Mourinho