Five of the most expensive transfers ever for players aged 17 or younger

French striker Mathys Tel has completed his move to Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich. Tel has become one of the highest-priced youngsters in football history. But who else makes the list of the five most expensive players under 17?

The former Stade Rennais forward swaps France for Bavaria in a deal worth an initial €20 million (£17 million), plus a potential €8 million (£6.7 million) in add-ons. If Tel completes the performance-related bonuses, he would be the most expensive 17-year-old in football history.

However, we want to look at the top five prior to Tel’s move. After all, some of the world’s biggest talents and lesser-known players feature on this list.

Now, the transfers of teenage footballers are often more complicated than regular moves. There are add-ons, sell-on fees, and age restrictions to factor in when working out a deal. As a result, two Real Madrid stars do not make the list.

Despite agreeing to moves at age 16 and 17, respectively, Vinicius Jr and Rodrygo will not be in this top five, as they both moved to Madrid once they were 18. Their £38 million moves would have put them in first and second place, but unfortunately, they miss out.

So, now that has been cleared up, here are five of the most expensive players aged 17 or under. All fees are from Transfermarkt in Euros, converted to pound sterling in today’s exchange rate.

5. Willem Geubbels – £17 million (€20 million)

Considered the successor to Mbappe, a 16-year-old Willem Geubbels cost AS Monaco €20 million (£17 million) in 2018.

A versatile forward, the Frenchman can play anywhere across the front three. Sadly, injuries have plagued the youngster’s career thus far.

After spending a few seasons on the fringes of the Monaco first team, Geubbels was on loan at Nantes last season. Here, he made 22 Ligue 1 appearances – 18 of those as a substitute – scoring twice.

4. Jadon Sancho – £17.4 million (€20.59 million)

Some of you might recognise the name of this player. Jadon Sancho signed for Borussia Dortmund from Manchester City in a deal worth an initial £8 million. However, the transfer included a “significant” sell-on fee, per ESPN. At the time of the transfer (August 2017), Sancho was 17 years old.

Dortmund’s then sporting director, Michael Zorc, labelled Sancho as “one of the biggest talents in European football” – and he was right. The winger scored 50 goals and got 64 assists for the German side before transferring to Manchester United last summer.

As a result of that £73 million deal, Manchester City received a further £9+ million from Dortmund. In total, a 17-year-old Sancho cost just over £17 million, putting him fourth on the list.

3. Pietro Pellegri – £17.7 million (€20.9 million)

Monaco are not afraid to shell out on a future star, are they? In January 2018, the French side paid £20.9 million (per Transfermarkt) for the then 16-year-old Pellegri.

A striker who had massive potential, Pellegri made his Serie A debut at just 15 years old. But, like Willem Geubbels, the Italian had a minimal impact in the south of France.

Last season, Pellegri returned to Italy in loan stints at AC Milan and Torino. He made 13 substitute appearances, scoring just once. Now 21, Pellegri still has time to prove that he was worth his fee as a teenager.

2. Alexandre Pato – £20.3 million (€24 million)

A bit of a throwback coming to the top five most expensive players aged 17 or below list. A revelation at such a young age, AC Milan spent big on a 17-year-old Pato in the summer of 2007. The striker was a player in demand, with some of Europe’s elite chasing his signature.

After such a promising start to his career, injuries derailed Pato’s form, and the hype surrounding the Brazilian waned. Milan let the forward return to his native Brazil in 2013, where he moved between clubs. Stints at Chelsea, Villarreal, and in China followed before Pato joined MLS side Orlando.

1. Jude Bellingham – £21.1 million (€25 million)

Birmingham City knew they had a world-class prospect in Jude Bellingham. Therefore, they commanded a €25 million fee for the midfielder, which Dortmund coughed up to sign the 16-year-old in 2020.

An energetic, box-to-box midfielder, Bellingham has already proved himself as a top midfielder in the Bundesliga. Now a first-team regular for the German giants, the Englishman is the subject of rampant speculation over a big-money move back to the Premier League.

Whether Dortmund keep him or sell him, it seems that their gamble on a 16-year-old Bellingham will definitely pay off.

Featured image credit: Getty