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10 most expensive teenagers in football history

ANALYST
Top 5 / Top 10
132.20K   //    Timeless

Spending big on teenage footballers has always been received with varied opinions. Argued from both sides, some say it plays a big role in inflating the already oversized egos of modern day footballers, whereas a different faction believes that it shows a great deal of faith from the club investing in the player. Professional Footballers’ Association chief Gordon Taylor even suggested to put the wages of young footballers into a trust until they are mature enough to spend it. Understandably it never happened. Anyway, while the world argues over the ethics of spending on young players, we take a look at the ten most expensive teenagers in football history! 

#10 Sergio Aguero - 15 million

Sergio Aguero
Sergio Aguero was the youngest player to debut in the Argentine Primera Division before moving to Atletico Madrid

Age – 18

Position – Striker

Transfer – Independiente to Atletico Madrid 

Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Manchester City’s explosive forward Sergio Aguero joined Independiente’s youth system at the age of nine. Soon enough, he made his professional debut for the first team against San Lorenzo at the age of just 15 years and 35 days, becoming the youngest player to debut in the Argentine Primera Division, a record previously held by footballing legend Diego Maradona. 

Seven months later, the diminutive striker achieved another personal milestone by becoming the youngest player to participate in the Copa Libertadores helping Independiente achieve a 4-2 win against Peru’s Cienciano in 2004. Aguero’s breakthrough came in the 2005/06 campaign where he ended the season with 18 goals in 36 league games, making him a subject of interest for many high profile clubs.

Subsequently, Spain’s Atletico Madrid beat the likes of Real Madrid and Juventus to complete a £15 million move for the then 18-year-old. Aguero went on to spearhead Atletico’s attack for five years winning the UEFA Europa League and the UEFA Super Cup in the process before a big money move saw him move to the Premier League with Manchester City in 2011.

#9 Sergio Ramos - 19 million

Sergio Ramos
Sergio Ramos (L) during his days at Sevilla

Age – 19

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Position – Centre Back

Transfer – Sevilla to Real Madrid 

Real Madrid splashed a hefty sum of £19 million on Sergio Ramos making him, quite possibly, their youngest Galactico signing. The Seville born defender enjoyed a breakthrough year in the 2004/05 season making 41 appearances for Sevilla, scoring in the home fixtures against Real Sociedad and his future club Real Madrid.

Shortly after the end of the season in the summer of 2005, president Florentino Perez sanctioned a move for the young Spaniard and the rest as they say, is history. Ramos’s finest moment in the all whites kit came in the Champions League final against cross-town rivals Atletico Madrid in Lisbon, where he scored a dramatic 93rd minute header to equalise and take the game into extra time. Real went on to win the game 4-1 and lift the trophy for a record 10th time – La Decima

The combative defender has been imperious to Real’s fortunes over the years and is swiftly closing in on 500 appearances for the Merengues, winning three La Liga titles, two Copa del Rey titles and one historic UEFA Champions League trophy.

#8 Antonio Cassano - 20 million

Antonio Cassano
Antonio Cassano has played for six Serie A clubs

Age – 19 

Position – Centre Forward 

Transfer – FC Bari to AS Roma 

Italian forward Aantonio Cassano was only 19 when AS Roma paid £20 million to FC Bari to partner the young talent with club legend Francesco Totti. The now 33-year-old’s time at the Italian capital can only be described as turbulent as he openly clashed with manager Fabio Capello and was involved in many incidents that required disciplinary actions.

He was sent off against AC Milan in the 2003 Italian Cup final for protesting a decision with the referee and flashed ‘the signs of the horns’ at the referee, a reference to the Devil himself, while heading for the dug out. Cassano ended his first season for Roma with just five goals and an Italian Supercup trophy.

The former Bari man twice won the Serie A Young Player of The Year award and scored 39 league goals in five years for Roma before signing for Spanish giants Real Madrid in the January transfer window of 2006.

#7 Marquinhos - 22 million

Marquinhos was also a target for Chelsea

Age – 19 

Position – Centre Back 

Transfer – AS Roma To Paris Saint-Germain 

Widely regarded as one of the best young defenders on the planet, Marquinhos became the most expensive young centre back in the world after completing a £22 million move from AS Roma to French club Paris Saint-Germain. Born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Marquinhos joined the youth set up at Corinthians at the tender age of eight.

After six first team appearances in the league in the 2011/12 season, the Brazilian signed a one year deal with the Italian capital club AS Roma. Impressing in the first few games for his new club, Marquinhos managed to nail down a place in the starting XI forming a strong partnership with former Corinthians teammate and fellow Brazilian Leandro Caastan.

Marquinhos played in just 26 league games for the Romans before signing for Paris Saint-Germain in a five year deal, linking up with Brazil national team captain Thiago Silva. The young centre back made a dream start to life at his new club by scoring on his debut in the UEFA Champions League against Olympiacos. He has averaged 32 appearances per season in the last two years at PSG now.

#6 Anderson - 22 million

Anderson ended up leaving Manchester United on a free transfer

Age – 18 

Position – Midfielder 

Transfer – FC Porto to Manchester United 

It is safe to assume that not many envisaged the travesty of Anderson’s lamentable Manchester United career when he signed for the club for £22 million from Portuguese club FC Porto. Considering he was the UEFA Golden Boy award winner in 2008, joining the ranks of Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero, why wouldn’t anyone expect a stellar career?

But in the eight years that he spent in the red half of Manchester, Anderson highlighted the risks of spending huge sums of money on youth. After a decent first year with the club, where he won the league and Champions League double, Anderson was never able to hold on to a permanent place in United’s midfield.

But the Brazilian never ran short of entertainment and laughs. A fan favourite at Old Trafford, Anderson scored one of the penalties in the Champions League final against Chelsea at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. Anderson eventually joined Brazilian club Internacional for free in the January transfer window of 2015 after his United contract expired.

#5 Javier Saviola - 25 million

Javier Saviola has played for both Barcelona and Real Madrid

Age – 19 

Position – Striker 

Transfer – River Plate to FC Barcelona 

Touted as one of the biggest unfulfilled potentials in world football, Javier Saviola’s career invokes a certain degree of melancholy in the eyes of many fans. The Argentine was even heralded as the potential heir to Diego Maradona.

Signed for £25 million from club River Plate, Saviola spent three relatively mediocre seasons at the Nou Camp before going out on loan. The Buenos Aires born striker scored a decent 17 goals in the La Liga in his first season finishing as the joint-fourth highest scorer in the league.  But his Catalan dream faltered from then on.

Inconsistency, niggling injuries, and the shadow of the great Patrick Kluivert – one of the best strikers on the planet at that time – prevented him from becoming the player Barcelona hoped he would be. Saviola spent the last two seasons of his Barca contract out on loan at AS Monaco and Sevilla before joining Real Madrid on a free transfer in 2007.

#4 Wayne Rooney - 26 million

Wayne Rooney Man Utd
Wayne Rooney was a record signing for a teenager when he moved to Manchester United from Everton

Age – 18

Position – Striker 

Transfer – Everton to Manchester United 

Manchester United paid a massive £26 million to Everton to procure the services of teenage sensation Wayne Rooney. More than a decade later, he is captaining both United and the England national team.

Announcing himself to the Old Trafford faithful in spectacular fashion with a hat-trick against Turkish outfit Fenerbahce in the UEFA Champions League, Rooney has been ubiquitous in United’s trophy laden history in the last decade. Five Premier League titles, one Champions League winners medal and a Club World Cup trophy to his name, Rooney is now third on the all time top scorers list for United with an impressive 233 goals in 484 games, quickly closing in on Sir Bobby Charlton’s record of 249 goals for the club.

Rooney also stands joint-second on the England all time scorers list with 48 goals only two goals short of eclipsing yet another Sir Bobby Charlton record. United’s talisman and captain, few would argue about the astuteness of the signing Sir Alex Ferguson made back in 2004.

#3 Lucas Moura - 28 million

Lucas Moura was PSG’s most expensive signing when he joined in 2013

Age – 19

Position – Attacking Midfield 

Transfer – Sao Paulo to Paris Saint-Germain 

Brazil international Lucas Moura’s £28 million move from Sao Paulo to Paris Saint-Germain has garnered mixed reviews so far. PSG beat stiff competition from Manchester United for the signature of the attacking midfielder in 2012. 

Blessed with tremendous pace, bags of trickery and an eye for finding teammates at the right place in the right time, Moura’s Parisian career has not yet propelled to the level many expected. The now 23-year-old did not even make the cut for the Brazilian national team squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup held in his home country.

His propensity for over doing things on the pitch has made him a frustrating figure in the eyes of PSG supporters. The French capital club has no shortage of attacking flair in the team and with the recent arrival of Angel Di Maria from Manchester United, they boast one of the best attacks in the world.

But, still only 23, Moura has a lot of time to revive his career and establish himself as one of the most potent attacking players on the planet.

#2 Luke Shaw - 31 million

Luke Shaw moved to Manchester United in 2014

Age – 18

Position – Left Back

Transfer – Southampton to Manchester United 

With club legend Patrice Evra in the twilight of his career and Dutch defender Alexander Buttner flattering to deceive, Manchester United needed a reliable defender to bombard down the left flank. And having played an incredible 38 games for Mauricio Pochettino’s Southampton the previous season, 18-year-old Luke Shaw’s £31 million move to Old Trafford did not surprise many.

Shaw’s first season with United saw him feature in just 20 out of the 44 games they played in all competitions in a season marred with several injuries. But after a fitness training camp in Dubai, the marauding left-back seems to have regained his confidence and has made a lively start to the 2015/16 campaign. 

Widely regarded as one of the best young talents England has ever produced, Shaw has made seven consecutive starts for Louis Van Gaal’s side this season, producing man of the match worthy performances in each and every game. Not bad for an 18 year old, we would say. 

#1 Anthony Martial - 36 million

Anthony Martial Manchester United
Anthony Martial became the most expensive teenager in history

Age – 19

Position – Striker

Transfer – AS Monaco to Manchester United 

When it comes to spending mammoth sums on young players, Manchester United have no equals. And the Red Devils completed the £36 million signing of French starlet Anthony Martial from AS Monaco on deadline day to rewrite history.

A quintessential striker but also capable of playing on the wings, Martial is a player with incredible pace and tenacity. Often compared with France and Arsenal legend Thierry Henry because of their similar upbringing in football, Martial scored eight goals in his last 12 games for Monaco.

A prolific scorer on every youth level with France, Martial scored 32 goals in 21 games for Lyon’s U-17 side before making the switch to Monaco. The striker has recently been called by Didier Deschamps to the French national team for the first time in his career. 

Although it may take a while before the young Frenchman acclimatises himself in the new environment, it is safe to say that United have got a great prospect to look forward to.

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