The 10 most expensive teenagers of all time, featuring three Real Madrid signings and former Man Utd record setter

Jude Bellingham at Real Madrid, Kylian Mbappe at PSG and Anthony Martial at Man Utd

Jude Bellingham, Kylian Mbappe and Anthony Martial all completed big-money transfers as teenagers

Football clubs are always looking for the next big star and they are willing to invest large amounts of money on promising young talents.

While older players have a lot of experience and can make an immediate impact, they won’t help the team in the long term and they have no resale value.

We’ve taken a look at the 10 most expensive teenagers of all time and how they fared after completing their big-money moves.

Note: While we’ve mentioned the potential add-ons in any deal, we’ve ranked the players by their initial transfer fees. The transfer fees are also in Pounds instead of Euros.

The likes of Endrick, Vitor Roque and Estevao could all cost over £50million with add-ons but they miss out on this list due to their initial fees.

10. Fabio Silva – £35.6m

Eyebrows were raised in the summer of 2020 when Wolves opted to spend £35.6million on Silva, who had made just 21 first-team appearances for Porto.

The gamble backfired as the striker failed to justify that price tag, scoring just five goals in 73 appearances in all competitions.

He had mixed loan spells at PSV Eindhoven, Anderlecht and Rangers and TEAMtalk understands that Wolves are now looking to sell the 21-year-old for £15million.

“The last few years have taught me so much in life but at that moment, Wolves wasn’t the best move,” Silva told SportBible.

“I needed to be with my family. I needed to play more in my country. I needed to make mistakes and learn from them. Instead, I went to the best league in the world and the pressure was on. Everybody expected Fabio Silva to hit the ground running and score 35 goals in my first season.”

9. Anthony Martial – £36m

Once dubbed as the next Thierry Henry, Martial became the world’s most expensive teenager when he swapped Monaco for Manchester United in September 2015.

He cost an initial £36million and a series of performance-related bonuses were also inserted into the deal, including a clause which would see United pay an extra £7.2million if he was nominated for the Ballon d’Or.

The France international made an excellent first impression by scoring against Liverpool on his debut, but he failed to reach his full potential at Old Trafford.

He was released by United at the end of the 2023/24 season, having registered just 90 goals in 317 appearances in all competitions.

Anthony Martial is set to leave Man Utd at the end of the season

8. Vinicius Junior – £38.7m

Vinicius made just two first-team appearances for Flamengo before Real Madrid decided to trigger the £38.7million release clause in his contract.

He arrived in the Spanish capital in the summer of 2018 and initially struggled to fill the huge void left by Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure.

But the Brazil international has gone from strength to strength in the last three years and is now regarded as one of the best players in the world.

He has helped Madrid win three La Liga titles, two Champions Leagues, two FIFA World Club Cups, a UEFA Super Cup and a Copa del Rey.

7. Rodrygo – £39.3m

A year after signing Vinicius Junior, Real Madrid dipped back into the Brazilian market and bought Rodrygo from Santos in a £39.3million deal.

He initially played a bit-part role at the Santiago Bernabeu but has now established himself as a key player in Carlo Ancelotti’s squad.

The 23-year-old has also delivered in crucial moments, including his last-gasp brace against Manchester City in the Champions League semi-finals in 2021/22.

He has recently been linked with a move to the Premier League and Madrid would make a big profit if they decide to sell the Brazil international, who is reportedly valued at around £85million.

6. Archie Gray – £40m

A Leeds United academy graduate, Gray enjoyed a brilliant breakthrough season in 2023/24 and won the Championship Young Player of the Year award.

Leeds were unable to prevent his departure as his contract included a £40million release clause, which became active after they failed to secure promotion to the Premier League.

The midfielder – who can also play at right-back – underwent a medical at Brentford but the move collapsed after the two clubs failed to agree on how the deal would be structured.

Tottenham swooped in to hijack the deal and the 18-year-old has now become the most expensive English teenager of all time, usurping the likes of Wayne Rooney and Luke Shaw.

5. Romeo Lavia – £53m

Despite the fact that Southampton were relegated from the Premier League in 2022/23, Lavia won plenty of plaudits during his breakthrough season.

Liverpool were willing to pay £60million for the Belgium international, but he snubbed the Reds and expressed his desire to join Chelsea.

The Blues were then able to negotiate a slightly lower fee, paying an initial £53million and another £5million in potential add-ons.

But the midfielder endured an injury-plagued debut season at Stamford Bridge, making just one substitute appearance in 2023/24.

Romeo Lavia of Chelsea

Romeo Lavia holds Chelsea shirt after signing from Southampton

4.  Matthijs De Ligt – £67.7m

De Ligt shot to prominence in the 2018/19 season after captaining Ajax to a domestic double and the semi-finals of the Champions League.

The centre-back rejected Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona in order to join Juventus, who agreed to pay an initial £67.7million and another £9.4million in potential add-ons.

He won the Serie A title in his debut season and the Coppa Italia in 2020/21, but he failed to replicate his Ajax form in a Juventus shirt and was sold to Bayern Munich in 2022.

“I was captain at Ajax and felt like I had to lead this team,” he said. “Of course, if you then go to a team that has such legends in defence and in goal, for a guy of 19 it might be a bit difficult at first to express yourself in the way you actually could.

“In a way, I was less myself but I learned a lot and tried to absorb things every day to become a better player and leader.”

3. Jude Bellingham – £88.5m

Bellingham spent three years at Borussia Dortmund and established himself as one of the most sought-after talents in world football.

Real Madrid won the race for his signature in June 2023 after paying Dortmund an initial £88.5million and another £26.5million in potential add-ons for the then-19-year-old.

The England international exceeded all expectations in his debut season at Madrid, registering 23 goals and 13 assists in all competitions.

His goals helped Madrid win La Liga and the Champions League in 2023/24, and he is currently the front-runner for the Ballon d’Or.

2. Joao Felix – £113m

Felix enjoyed a brilliant breakthrough season at Benfica in 2018/19 and this was enough to convince Atletico Madrid to part with £113million.

The Portugal international won La Liga in 2020/21 and has provided glimpses of his considerable talent, but he’s struggled to hit the heights expected of him.

He had an underwhelming loan spell at Chelsea in the second half of the 2022/23 campaign before joining Barcelona on a season-long loan deal.

Atletico are now looking to offload the 24-year-old but they aren’t going to receive anywhere near the £113million they originally spent on him in 2019.

1. Kylian Mbappe – £166m

After helping Monaco win Ligue 1 and reach the Champions League semi-finals in 2016/17, Mbappe emerged as the hottest prospect in Europe.

He joined Paris Saint-Germain on an initial loan deal and that move was then made permanent for £166million, making him the most expensive teenager of all time.

The France international justified that fee and went on to become PSG’s all-time top goalscorer, netting 256 goals in 308 appearances in all competitions.

But his time at the Parc des Princes came to an acrimonious end in the 2023/24 season, and he joined Real Madrid on a free transfer.

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