Dortmund’s teen sensations Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland will look to do a number on Paris Saint-Germain again next week having combined to beat them in first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.
Haaland became one of the most expensive teens in history in January when he joined the club from Red Bull Salzburg for £17million while Sancho, not 20 until later this month, looks set for a summer move to the Premier League.
Teenage stars Jadon Sancho (left) and Erling Haaland (right) celebrate after a Dortmund goal
But splashing the cash on youngsters doesn’t always guarantee you success.
Arsenal made Clive Allen football’s first million-pound teenager when he signed from QPR in 1980, but they bizarrely let him leave just weeks later as part of a swap deal with Crystal Palace for Kenny Sansom.
Three years later, Danish legend Michael Laudrup broke the teen transfer record when he moved to Juventus from Brondby, where he enjoyed considerable success after an initial two-year loan spell at Lazio.
The Brazilian Ronaldo twice broke the transfer record for a teenager in the 1990s, joining PSV for £5m aged 17 in 1994, before moving to Barcelona two years later for £13.5m.
A 19-year-old Clive Allen joined Arsenal for £1.25m in 1980, but left for Crystal Palace in a swap deal for Kenny Sansom just weeks later
While he would go on to become one of the world’s greatest ever players, the man who broke the transfer record in between those two moves, fellow Brazilian Caio Ribeiro, spectacularly failed to live up to his £6.6m price-tage on joining Inter from Sao Paulo in 1995.
Below, we’ve rated the 20 most expensive teenagers in football history, featuring no fewer than five Manchester United signings.
20 Javier Saviola, River Plate to Barcelona, July 2001, £15m – MISS
On the face of it, 70 goals in 168 matches doesn’t seem like a bad return. But when you consider the Argentine striker was expected to become one of the world’s best players when he joined the Catalans, then the way his career fizzled out was a disappointment.
Argentine forward Javier Saviola signs for Barcelona as a fresh-faced teenager in 2001
19 John Obi Mikel, Lyn to Chelsea, June 2006, £16m – MISS
Mikel will consider his time at Stamford Bridge a success, having won eight major trophies including two Premier League titles and the Champions League. But when Chelsea beat Manchester United to his signature they were sold a potential world beater. That he is not.
John Obi Mikel was tipped to become one of the best players in the world as a teenager
18 Sergio Aguero, Independiente to Atletico Madrid, May 2006, £16.5m – HIT
One of the best strikers in the world for over a decade, Aguero excelled at Atletico for five seasons before earning them a near-£20m profit when he joined Manchester City. Has scored 376 goals in 654 career club apperances, winning the Premier League four times.
Sergio Aguero has gone on to fulfil his potential at both Atletico Madrid and Manchester City
16= Erling Haaland, Salzburg to Dortmund, January 2020, £17m – HIT
The Norwegian striker’s rise has been meteoric. Just six months after joining Salzburg, he was snapped up by Dortmund and has hit the ground running with 11 goals in seven matches, taking his season total to a scarcely believable 39 goals in 29 matches. Looks set to become one of the world’s best strikers.
Haaland celebrates scoring for Dortmund against PSG in the Champions League
16= Phil Jones, Blackburn to Manchester United, July 2011, £17m – MISS
Brilliant at Blackburn, Jones has never lived up to his teenage potential, largely due to injuries and United’s fall from grace. The defender has probably paid off his transfer fee, nine years on, but struggles to get a game now aged 27.
Big things were expected of Phil Jones when he arrived at Manchester United from Blackburn
15 Sergio Ramos, Sevilla to Real Madrid, September 2005, £18.5m – HIT
Probably the best value for money signing on this list, Ramos has become a Real Madrid great, winning four Champions League crowns and four La Liga titles during his 15 years at the club, where he has made over 600 appearances in defence.
Sergio Ramos is now Real Madrid’s captain having arrived at the club 15 years ago
14 Antonio Cassano, Bari to Roma, March 2001, £19.5m – MISS
Broke Ronaldo’s transfer record for a teenager which had stood for five years when he made the switch from his hometown club to the then-Serie A champions. A maverick talent, Cassano produced some magic moments but was in constant conflict with managers and the board, before leaving for Real Madrid in 2006.
Antonio Cassano made headlines largely for the wrong reasons during his stint at Roma
13 Anderson, Porto to Manchester United, July 2007, £26m – MISS
Pound for pound, goes down as one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s worst signings. The Brazilian midfielder started well enough in his first season as United won the Champions League, but never kicked on. In fact, he got worse as he struggled with his weight and fitness. Retired aged 31 in September having last played in the Turkish second tier.
Anderson retired from football last year aged just 31 after failing to fulfil his potential
12 Wayne Rooney, Everton to Manchester United, August 2004, £27m – HIT
A bona fide hit. Manchester United’s record goalscorer and a five-time title winner during his 13 years at Old Trafford more than paid back his then-world record transfer fee for a teenager. Also rose to captain England a become their top scorer. Still going aged 34 as a player-coach at Derby.
Sir Alex Ferguson unveils Wayne Rooney as a Manchester United player in 2004
10= Marquinhos, Roma to Paris Saint-Germain, July 2013, £27m – HIT
Defensive players tend to pay back their fees over a longer period of time, and that has been the case with the Brazilian, who is the heartbeat of the PSG team now aged 25. A mainstay of the Brazil national team too.
Marquinhos has become a mainstay of the Paris Saint-Germain team
10= William Saliba, Saint-Etienne to Arsenal, July 2019, £27m – TOO SOON TO JUDGE
It’s a mark of how transfer fees have inflated that the man at No 10 on this list was loaned straight back out to Saint-Etienne. Time will tell if the centre back is a success, but there is definitely room for him in the team next season given the Gunners’ struggles.
William Saliba is set to be introduced into Arsenal’s first-team next season after his loan ends
9 Luke Shaw, Southampton to Manchester United, June 2014, £31m – MISS
Shaw’s transfer fee broke Rooney’s 10-year record as Manchester United again put faith in youth. He has overcome an horrific leg break early in his United career and public fallings out with former manager Jose Mourinho to establish himself as a regular at left back this season, but overall has failed to live up to his teenage hype.
Luke Shaw has established himself as a regular at Old Trafford after a frustrating start
8 Moise Kean, Juventus to Everton, August 2019, £37m – TOO SOON TO JUDGE
The Italian striker has struggled to adapt in his first season in the Premier League, scoring just once in 22 appearances so far. But with compatriot Carlo Ancelotti now at the helm there is still plenty of time for him to start paying back his incentive-based transfer fee.
Moise Kean has scored just once for Everton since his big-money move from Juventus
6= Lucas Moura, Sao Paulo to Paris Saint-Germain, January 2013, £38m – MISS
It was thought Moura would become one of the world’s best players when PSG pipped Manchester United to his signature, but he has not reached that level. The rapid winger has enjoyed relative success with PSG and then Tottenham, who he joined for £25m in 2018, but doesn’t consistently produce his best form.
Lucas Moura now finds himself at Tottenham having failed to hold down a spot at PSG
6= Vinicius Junior, Flamengo to Real Madrid, July 2018, £38m – TOO SOON TO JUDGE
A versatile forward earmarked for greatness since making his Flamengo debut aged 16, Real moved quickly to snap him up. Started well but has struggled this season, however at 19 years old it is far too early to judge him yet.
Vinicius Junior joined Real Madrid from Flamengo in 2018 as an 18-year-old
5 Rodrygo Goes, Santos to Real Madrid, June 2019, £50m – TOO SOON TO JUDGE
A year after signing Vinicius, Real again dipped into the Brazilian market to seal a deal for the winger, who is tipped to become even better than his team-mate. Again, it is too early to judge but he has shown skill confidence in abundance already.
Rodrygo Goes is hoping to follow the long line of successful Brazilians to have played for Real
4 Anthony Martial, Monaco to Manchester United, September 2015, £58m – MISS
United broke their own world teenage transfer record for the second time nearly five years ago for the relatively unknown Martial. The forward is a classy operator at his best but tends to drift through games and, more worryingly, seasons. Sixty-one goals in 203 appearances is an underwhelming return.
Big things were expected of Anthony Martial when he joined Manchester United in 2015
3 Matthijs de Ligt, Ajax to Juventus, July 2019, £68m – TOO SOON TO JUDGE
The Dutchman had Europe’s giants battling for his signature last summer after captaining Ajax to the Champions League semi-finals, but he’s struggled in his first season in Italy, where he is fourth in the central defensive pecking order despite his huge cost. Still only 20 though and will surely come good.
Matthijs de Ligt has endured a tough first season in Italy after his summer move from Ajax
2 Joao Felix, Benfica to Atletico Madrid, July 2019, £105m – TOO SOON TO JUDGE
It is fair to say that his enormous transfer fee has weighed heavily on Felix since joining Atletico in the summer, but much like De Ligt and several other recent signings on here, it is far too early to judge. What we do know is that the forward possesses outstanding ability on the ball which will surely come to define him.
Joao Felix is yet to show what he can do since his club record move to Atletico Madrid
1 Kylian Mbappe, Monaco to Paris Saint-Germain, June 2018, £150m – HIT
Obliterated the previous transfer record for a teen when he moved to PSG permanently, having been on loan the season before. With 84 goals in 116 games in Paris, the forward is already one of the world’s best players and a World Cup winner aged 21, and looks set to go on to be an all-time great.
Kylian Mbappe is by far the most expensive teenager ever after his move from Monaco in 2018