The Most Expensive Teenagers in Premier League History

Fabio SilvaWolverhampton Wanderers Unveil New Record Signing Fabio Silva | Wolverhampton Wanderers FC/Getty Images

Every club wants the best young talent in football, but they usually come at a premium.

Wolves have broken their transfer record to sign striker Fabio Silva from Porto in a deal worth a reported £35m – immediately making him the second most expensive teenager in Premier League history.

It’s a power play and a statement of intent when a club opts to spend big bucks on younger talent, instead of investing in already proven, yet older, players.

It’s also a high risk, however. No, not Jim Ross calling a ladder match high risk, but a financial risk. If the player comes good, it can prove to be a shrewd investment as it’s secured the future of a club for the next several years.

The opposite of that, is the teenager becoming a major flop and the club being left with empty pockets and egg on their face. With that in mind, here’s a list of the top 12 most expensive fees paid to bring a teenager to the Premier League, and a look at how they fared…

Cristiano Ronaldo (R) of Manchester UnitRonaldo proved to be worth every penny that Man Utd paid for him and then some | ANDREW YATES/Getty Images

Year: 2003
Fee: £12.24m

Cristiano Ronaldo’s move to Manchester United in the summer of 2003 was by no means a cheap one at the time, despite it being the lowest fee on this list.

The £12.24m United paid Sporting for the 18-year-old was a record at the time, making Ronaldo the most expensive teenager in English history.

118 goals, 69 assists, a Champions League, three Premier leagues, a Ballon d’Or and countless other accolades just about justifies it, however. Especially considering he was sold for a then-world record fee of £80m in 2009.

Success Rating: 10/10

Calum ChambersChambers was back in the fold at Arsenal last season | Robin Jones/Getty Images

Year: 2014
Price: £16m

Arsenal’s signing of a 19-year-old Calum Chambers ahead of the 2014/15 season looked like a shrewd bit of business at the time.

He started his debut campaign in north London strongly too, being nominated for the 2014 Golden Boy award – but he’s never quite kicked on since.

Injuries and inconsistent performances, along with the departure of Arsene Wenger, has seriously hampered his time with the Gunners. Now 25, he looks a shadow of the player he was tipped to be in 2014.

Success Rating: 4/10

Phil JonesPhil Jones is close to achieving 10 years as a Man Utd player… | Gareth Copley/Getty Images

Year: 2011
Fee: £17m

In 2013, Sir Alex Ferguson claimed that Phil Jones could become Manchester United’s greatest ever player. No, that isn’t a joke.

It’s been a painfully long seven years since that audacious claim – which couldn’t have been more wrong – and the fact that the defender is still at the club is testament to just how bad things have gotten in the post-Fergie era.

Success Rating: 1/10

Manchester United's Brazilian midfielderAnderson spent seven-and-a-half years at Man Utd | OLIVER LANG/Getty Images

Year: 2007
Fee: £22m

He was better than Kleberson, but not by much…

Anderson signed for United aged 18 and won the 2008 Golden Boy award. The Brazilian was destined for the top after a bright start and had the trust of Ferguson, who brought him on from the bench in United’s 2008 Champions League final victory.

He never quite kicked on as expected however, and left United on a free transfer in 2015.

Success Rating: 3/10

Ryan SessegnonSessegnon has time to turn his fortunes around | Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Year: 2019
Fee: £25m

Despite still only being 20 years old, people have been talking about Ryan Sessegnon as the ‘next big thing’ for quite a while.

Since bursting onto the scene with Fulham as a 16-year-old, and becoming the youngest ever goal scorer in the history of the Championship, it’s all slowed down a bit since moving to Spurs.

He had to wait until November that year to make his debut due to injury, and can’t seem to find a way into the side under Jose Mourinho. Real shame.

Success Rating: 4/10

Wayne RooneyRooney is arguably the greatest English player ever | Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Year: 2004
Fee: £25.6m

Rooney was still only 18 when Sir Alex Ferguson paid a record fee to bring him to Old Trafford, and he was worth every penny.

Rooney scored a hat-trick on his United debut and would develop into one of the greatest English players ever during his 13 year spell with the Red Devils. He remains the club’s all time record goal scorer with 250 goals in 559 appearances.

Success Rating: 10/10

FBL-FRA-L1-BORDEAUX-SAINT ETIENNESaliba will be looking to make an impact in the English game during the 2020/21 season | NICOLAS TUCAT/Getty Images

Year: 2019
Fee: £27m

Highly-rated defender William Saliba signed for Arsenal in 2019, but spent the 2019/20 campaign on loan at Saint-Etienne.

He’s since returned to north London and enjoyed a solid pre-season with Mikel Arteta’s side, but it’s still too early to decide just how successful he’ll be at Arsenal.

Success Rating: N/A

Moise Kean, Diego RicoThe Italian showed signs of improvement under Ancelotti toward the end of the season | Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Year: 2019
Fee: £27.5m

When the Toffees announced the signing of Kean from Juventus last summer, just about every football fan in Europe and as stunned as they were impressed.

It looked to be a huge coup for Everton, but so far, the youngster has flattered to deceive. Kean has managed just two goals and two assists from 33 appearances in his first season, but has time to turn it around under new boss Carlo Ancelotti.

Success Rating: 3/10

Gabriel JesusGabriel Jesus is still trying to prove himself as the heir to Aguero’s throne at City | Pool/Getty Images

Year: 2016
Fee: £31m (including potential add-ons)

Manchester City paid an initial £27m for the Brazilian, but add-ons take the sum over the £30m mark.

Highly-rated Gabriel Jesus completed his move to the Citizens in January 2017 and has largely been a success story since. Question marks still remain as to whether he’s the man to replace Sergio Aguero when the time comes, but he’s been a solid signing regardless.

Success Rating: 7/10

Luke ShawInjuries have ravaged Shaw’s spell at United | Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Year: 2014
Fee: £30m

Manchester United again broke a transfer record when they paid Southampton £30m to make Luke Shaw the most expensive teenager in the world.

After a difficult first season, Shaw found his feet in the 2015/16 campaign until a nasty leg break ended his season prematurely. He’s been hit and miss ever since, but in the last 12 months has slowly found the form that made him worth that transfer fee all those years ago.

Success Rating: 6/10

New kits ?????? look better on a new signing ?

— Wolves (@Wolves) September 5, 2020

Year: 2020
Fee: £35m

Wolves jumped straight into second on this list this summer. Their signing of 18-year-old Silva from Porto makes him the second most expensive teenager in Premier League history.

£35m is a lot of money for a player that most of us know simply from FM20, but in two or three years time we could look back on it as money well spent.

Success Rating: N/A

Anthony MartialMartial bagged United’s first hat-trick since 2013 in their 3-0 win against Sheffield United in June 2020 | Michael Steele/Getty Images

Year: 2015
Fee: £57.6m (including potential add-ons)

Manchester United top the list – to the surprise of, well, no one – with their signing of Anthony Martial in 2015. They paid an initial £36m for the French striker which could rise to £58m. And while it seemed steep at the time, he’s become a fan favourite at Old Trafford.

After an electric first season, Martial has struggled for consistency for a while but was back to his best in the 2019/20 campaign, hitting a career best 23 goals and 12 assists in all competitions.

Success Rating: 8/10

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