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Top 10 Most Expensive Teenagers in Football History

Football clubs are constantly on the lookout for the next big star, and they are willing to invest heavily in promising young talents. While older players bring experience and immediate impact, young stars represent long-term potential and future resale value. Here’s a look at the top 10 most expensive teenagers in football history and how they fared after their big-money moves.

10. Fabio Silva – £35.6m

In the summer of 2020, Wolves surprised many by spending £35.6 million on Silva, who had just 21 first-team appearances for Porto. Unfortunately, the striker struggled to live up to expectations, scoring only five goals in 73 appearances across all competitions. Despite mixed loan spells at PSV Eindhoven, Anderlecht, and Rangers, Wolves are now looking to sell the 21-year-old for £15 million.

9. Anthony Martial – £36m

Martial became the world’s most expensive teenager in September 2015 when he moved from Monaco to Manchester United for an initial £36 million. Though he had a promising start, scoring on his debut against Liverpool, he never fully realized his potential at Old Trafford. Martial left United at the end of the 2023/24 season with 90 goals in 317 appearances.

8. Vinicius Junior – £38.7m

Vinicius Junior joined Real Madrid from Flamengo for £38.7 million after just two first-team appearances. Initially struggling to replace Cristiano Ronaldo, he has since become one of the world’s top players. Vinicius has helped Madrid secure three La Liga titles, two Champions Leagues, and several other trophies.

7. Rodrygo – £39.3m

Real Madrid continued their investment in young Brazilian talent by signing Rodrygo from Santos for £39.3 million in 2019. After initially playing a bit-part role, Rodrygo has established himself as a key player, delivering in crucial moments, including a decisive brace against Manchester City in the Champions League semi-finals in 2021/22.

6. Archie Gray – £40m

Leeds United academy graduate Archie Gray had a breakout season in 2023/24, winning the Championship Young Player of the Year award. Following Leeds’ failure to secure promotion, his £40 million release clause was activated. Initially set to join Brentford, Gray ultimately signed with Tottenham, becoming the most expensive English teenager ever.

5. Romeo Lavia – £53m

Despite Southampton’s relegation in 2022/23, Lavia impressed with his performances. Liverpool showed interest, but Lavia chose Chelsea, who signed him for £53 million plus potential add-ons. Unfortunately, his debut season at Stamford Bridge was marred by injuries, limiting him to just one substitute appearance.

4. Matthijs De Ligt – £67.7m

De Ligt made headlines in 2018/19 by captaining Ajax to a domestic double and the Champions League semi-finals. Juventus secured his services for £67.7 million, but he struggled to replicate his Ajax form in Italy. De Ligt eventually moved to Bayern Munich in 2022.

3. Jude Bellingham – £88.5m

Bellingham’s rise to prominence at Borussia Dortmund led to a big-money move to Real Madrid for £88.5 million in 2023. He exceeded all expectations in his debut season, scoring 23 goals and providing 13 assists, helping Madrid win La Liga and the Champions League. Bellingham is currently a frontrunner for the Ballon d’Or.

2. Joao Felix – £113m

After a stellar season at Benfica in 2018/19, Atletico Madrid signed Joao Felix for £113 million. Despite winning La Liga in 2020/21, Felix has struggled to meet expectations. Following a loan spell at Chelsea, he joined Barcelona on a season-long loan, with Atletico looking to sell him for much less than his original transfer fee.

1. Kylian Mbappe – £166m

Mbappe’s sensational performances at Monaco earned him a move to Paris Saint-Germain for £166 million, making him the most expensive teenager ever. He justified his price by becoming PSG’s all-time top scorer with 256 goals in 308 appearances. After a tumultuous end to his PSG career, Mbappe joined Real Madrid on a free transfer in 2023/24.

These young stars highlight the high stakes and potential rewards of investing in teenage talent, shaping the future of football with their remarkable skills and significant transfer fees.