By Our Reporter
It is 14 years to the day since Wayne Rooney completed his record-breaking move from Everton to Manchester United.
The then-18-year-old moved for £26m, making him the most expensive teenager in history, having just starred for England at Euro 2004.
Sir Alex Ferguson admitted that he had to persuade the club to sanction such a move for Rooney but he was immediately rewarded as his signing smashed in a brilliant hattrick on his debut.
That season ended with Rooney winning the PFA Young Player of the Year award – but it was hardly the last silverware he’d get his hands on in a United shirt.
By the time he left Old Trafford in 2017, Rooney had won five Premier League titles, three League Cups, an FA Cup, a Europa League title, and the Champions League.
Rooney also won the PFA Players’ Player of the Year, the FWA Player of the Year, was named in the PFA Team of the Year on three occasions and, most importantly, finished as United’s all-time record goal scorer.
Simply put, it’s a pretty sensational standard for a teenage signing to set – so let’s have a look at how the most expensive teenagers since have held up.
10 – Pietro Pellegri – Genoa to AS Monaco for €25m in 2018
Pellegri debuted in Serie A when he was just 15 years old, scoring his first goal a few months later. He’s the first 21st century-born player to score in Serie A and has since become the first to do it in Ligue 1, too. The record-breaking Italian is still only 17 but looks set for a very bright future.
9 – Paulinho – Vasco da Gama to Bayer Leverkusen for €26.4m in 2018
Paulinho was less than a year into his career before Bayer decided to pay a big figure for him. The Brazilian is the first 21st century-born scorer in Brazil’s Serie A and clearly impressed in such a short time. We’ll see how he does in European football.
8 – Anderson – FC Porto to Manchester United for €30m in 2007
Anderson was hyped when he arrived at Old Trafford but never really lived up to it. Still, he had a career there that most players would envy, leaving in 2015 after four Premier League titles and a Champions League.
7 – Marquinhos – AS Roma to Paris Saint-Germain for €31.4m in 2013
Marquinhos was a big signing after just one season in Serie A but PSG have got their money’s worth. The Brazilian has played regularly since, winning the Ligue 1 title in all but one year there.
6 – Gabriel Jesus – Palmeiras to Manchester City for €33m in 2017
City waited five months after signing Gabriel Jesus before welcoming him to the club. He’d had two seasons in Brazil to prepare him for English football and it seemed to do him good as he made an instant impact. Still just 21, he’s already bagged over 20 PL goals and won the title.
5 – Renato Sanches – Benfica to Bayern Munich for €35m in 2016
Where did it all go wrong? Sanches looked like he had all the tools to be a superstar when he joined Bayern but has floundered since. There was excitement a year ago when he joined Swansea on loan but an incredibly disappointing season has seen his stock plummet. Bayern are set to give him another chance.
4 – Luke Shaw – Southampton to Manchester United for €38m in 2014
Shaw became the most expensive teenager ever when he made this move but his progress has stalled dramatically since. He made England’s World Cup squad in 2014 but was never likely to make it in 2018. He has, however, started showing signs that he’s back on the up.
3 – Vinicius Junior – Flamengo to Real Madrid for €45m in 2018
This has been one hell of a gamble from Real, who agreed to pay a monster fee for Vinicius just two months after his debut. He had to wait until he was 18 to complete the move, scoring ten goals for Flamengo while he waited. Finally, at Real and with a lot of pressure on his back.
2 – Anthony Martial – AS Monaco to Manchester United for €51m in 2015
United really do like expensive teenagers, don’t they? This deal broke Shaw’s record after just one year and came with a lot of attention. Martial, like Shaw, hasn’t quite lived up to it – but many fans believe that is simply down to his managers.
1 – Kylian Mbappe – AS Monaco to Paris Saint-Germain for €145m in 2018
Mbappe joined PSG on loan last year and completed the move after a month, making him by far the most expensive teenager. He already won the World Cup and was named best young player, matching Pele’s goal scoring records in the process – he’s going to be a legend, isn’t he?