It’s no secret that transfer fees have absolutely exploded over the last few years, particularly in relation to young players. The three most expensive teenage transfers to date are Matthijs de Ligt to Juventus, for £67.5 million, Joao Felix to Atletico Madrid, for £114 million, and Kylian Mbappe to PSG, for £116 million. Those are some seriously huge transfers, and two of them happened this summer, whilst the other came just 12 months ago.
Now, a lot of people have asked me to do videos on either the 7 most expensive players or the 7 most expensive teenagers and where they are now, but as you can see, since the moves are mostly very recent, it wouldn’t make for a particularly interesting video. Instead, we’re looking at the 7 most expensive teenagers 7 years ago, which I hope you’ll agree is a little more intriguing.
If you’re thinking that sounds a little familiar, you may be recalling that I did a video on the 7 best teenagers in the world 7 years ago at the start of May, but fear not, these are very different videos and I believe only one player manages to feature in both.
Here are, or were, the 7 most expensive teenagers 7 years ago: Where are they now?
7. Sergio Aguero - Manchester City
Getting us started and transporting us all the way back to a transfer that happened 13 years ago, Sergio Aguero’s 2006 move from Club Atlético Independiente to Atletico Madrid was still one of the seven biggest fees paid for a teenager seven years ago. Atletico paid €20 million to sign Aguero, who had been sensational for Argentina’s under-20’s, making him the Mattress Makers most expensive signing of all time.
It took a teenage Aguero a season to settle in to life in the Spanish capital, but he stepped up to the plate after Fernando Torres was sold in his second season. He scored 94 goals in 192 games in his last four seasons with the club, before making a £35 million move to free-spending Manchester City in the Premier League.
That proved to be an absolute bargain by the club and a stroke of genius by Roberto Mancini. Aguero scored 30 goals in all competitions in his debut campaign, scoring the all-important injury time winner against QPR as Man City won their first top flight league title in 44 years. Aguero has since added three more Premier League titles, four League Cups, two Community Shields and an FA Cup, scoring 231 goals in 338 games to become Man City’s all time record goal scorer.
6. Sergio Ramos - Real Madrid
Sergio Ramos of Real Madrid CF celebrates scoring their second goal during the La Liga match between Real Madrid CF and Rayo Vallecano de Madrid at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on November 8,...
From one Sergio to another, like Sergio Aguero, it was in a move to the Spanish capital that Sergio Ramos became one of the most expensive teenagers in the world. Ramos had made his Spain debut whilst starring for Sevilla as a right-back at the age of 18, and it was not long after his 19th birthday that he joined Real Madrid for €27 million, making him the most expensive Spanish defender and one of the most expensive teenagers of all time.
Initially played at centre-back due to a lack of options there, Ramos was soon re-deployed back at right-back. It was in the 2011-12 season though, when Real began playing Ramos regularly as a centre-back, that he really began to establish himself as a world class talent. An excellent athlete who is easy to dislike due to his sometimes dubious behaviour on the pitch, there are no denying his talents.
Still with Real now, despite rumours of a rift earlier this summer, Ramos has played 606 games for Real Madrid in total. That puts him fifth in Real’s all time appearance charts, and he has won four La Liga titles, four Champions Leagues, four Club World Cups, three UEFA Super Cups, three Spanish Supercups and two Copa del Reys at the Bernabeu. Ramos will soon overtake Casillas to become Spain’s most capped player of all time as well, and it’d probably be fair to say he has proved to be a decent signing by Real.
5. Antonio Cassano - Retired
A fine example of how rapidly the market has inflated in recent times in comparison to years gone by, Antonio Cassano still stood as the fifth most expensive teenager of all time in the summer of 2012, despite the fact that the transfer that put him there happened in 2001. An incredibly gifted footballer, Cassano’s talents as a teen were immediately obvious at Bari. Bright, inventive, brilliant on the ball and a menace to pick up, Roma won the race to sign the 19-year-old.
60 billion Italian lire was the fee, equivalent to around €30 million, making him the most expensive teenager of all time. Cassano clashed with the Roma hierarchy, something he would make rather a habit of, but he still played some of the best football of his career in tandem with Francesco Totti, particularly between 2002 and 2004. Ultimately he left for Real Madrid for just €5 million in 2006 under the cloud of a contract dispute.
Cassano has famously, or infamously, had a pretty terrible temper and he’s made some pretty stupid comments in the past. He went on to play for the likes of Sampdoria, AC Milan and Inter Milan after clashing with Fabio Capello in Madrid, but ultimately never reached the heights his talent was more than capable of attaining. He retired in 2017, before un-retiring, retiring again, coming back out of retirement and then retiring once more, before stating that he was going to come out of retirement a final time in 2018, before revealing that he wasn’t actually and that he was in fact going to stay retired.
4. Anderson - Adana Demirspor
Anderson of Manchester United celebrates scoring his team's fourth goal during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final second leg match between Manchester United and Schalke at Old Trafford...
The last half-decade really has seen a harsh fall from grace for Brazilian midfielder Anderson, once regarded as one of the best young players on the planet. The move that sees Anderson feature in this seven, going from Porto to Manchester United in 2007, set the Red Devils back roughly the same amount that Roma paid for Cassano, €30 million.
The former under-17 World Cup winner joined United just a month after his 19th birthday, and a month later he won his first senior cap for Brazil. A dynamic, skilful and hard working central midfielder, Anderson brought a real injection of energy into the United midfield. He made 38 appearances in his debut campaign at Old Trafford, and the same number once more the following season.
He picked up a cruciate ligament injury in January 2010 though, and was never the same player after that. His Manchester United career meandered out, and a return to Brazil didn’t provide the spark the midfielder required, even getting relegated whilst on-loan at Cortiba. He joined Turkish second tier outfit Adana Demirspor last summer, where he was a losing play-off semi-finalist last season.
3. Javier Saviola - Futsal & Coaching
Another player who never quite lived up to the heights many expected of him, Javier Saviola looked destined for greatness at both River Plate and in his early days at Barcelona. A quick and diminutive centre-forward who loved to beat players and could score goals for fun, the amount Barcelona paid to sign a 19-year-old Saviola is widely disputed, but the most reputable sources suggest around €35 million, which puts Saviola third in this seven.
He commanded such a lofty fee having already scored 45 goals in 86 games for River Plate, an incredibly tally for a player of his age, along with 11 goals in 7 games for Argentina’s under-20’s, with whom he won the under-20 World Cup as the tournaments best player and top scorer. In his first season with Barcelona he scored 21 goals, followed by 20 in his second and 19 in his third. Saviola was impressive, but he wasn’t quite progressing in the way it had been hoped, and he spent the next two seasons out on-loan.
Having failed to agree a new deal with Barca, Saviola made the rare and controversial move to their El Clasico rivals Real Madrid on a free transfer in 2007. He could never nail down a starting berth at the Bernabeu though, and as the goals dried up, a move to Benfica soon followed. Saviola did a good job in Portugal, but gradually fell away, and never became an all time great as so many had predicted. Having retired in 2016, Saviola moved to Andorra, where he plays futsal for a team called Encamp and serves as top flight team Ordino’s assistant manager.
2. Wayne Rooney - DC United
Wayne Rooney #9 of D.C. United reacts in the second half against the Vancouver Whitecaps during his MLS debut at Audi Field on July 14, 2018 in Washington, DC.
Such an incredible young talent, Wayne Rooney became the most expensive teenager of all time in 2004, and he held that record for more than eight years. Teenage Rooney was absolutely exhilarating to watch. He was quick and explosive, he was fearless, incredibly talented and never afraid to shoot. Following a fantastic Euro 2004, his best major tournament with England, Rooney joined Manchester United for £25.6 million, an enormous fee for an 18-year-old.
Rooney scored 17 goals in his first season at Old Trafford, the first of 13 seasons he spent with the Red Devils. The feisty frontman, whose best days were already behind him at the age of 30, went on to become Manchester United and England’s all time record goal scorers, exceeding Bobby Charlton’s long standing records on both fronts. He returned to Everton in 2017, but just for a season, and has been making a big impression in the MLS since June 2018.
As daft as it sounds, when discussing a player as decorated as Rooney who was for at least two or three years among the top 10 players on the planet, I have often said that I think he could have been even better. At the age of 18, he was more gifted than Cristiano Ronaldo, and with the same level of extraordinary dedication in terms of his fitness, diet and all the rest of it, perhaps Rooney could have put him in that conversation alongside Messi and Ronaldo.
1. Lucas Moura - Tottenham
I was caught in two minds about whether to include this one, since whilst PSG did sign Lucas Moura seven years ago, the Brazilian didn’t actually join the club until six-and-a-half years ago. The young winger was hot property having already scored more than 30 goals for Sao Paulo and having broken into the Brazilian national team. Frighteningly quick and brilliant on the ball, Moura looked like the latest in a long line of sensational Brazilian flair players.
PSG saw off the competition of Manchester United and Inter Milan to sign the teenager, the £38 million (or €45 million) fee finally overtaking Rooney’s record as the world’s most expensive player under the age of 20. Lucas made 230 appearances and scored 46 goals for the Parisians in five seasons in the French capital, but he wasn’t setting the world alight in the way the club had hoped.
Having been a regular fixture for Brazil from the age of 19 to 21, he barely featured for them after his 22nd birthday. Mauricio Pochettino picked up the Brazilian for a reduced price of £25 million in January 2018, and after a quiet debut campaign, he played a pivotal role last season. He scored 15 goals in 49 games, including a really important brace against Manchester United, an equaliser against Barcelona and a second-half hat-trick against Ajax. He’s likely to play a big part at White Hart Lane once again next season.
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