๐Ÿ’ถ The most expensive players in history aged 18 or younger
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๐Ÿ’ถ The most expensive players in history aged 18 or younger

In football, you often pay for potential rather than the finished product.

In recent years Real Madrid hasn't been shy to pivot its transfer strategy from one where they've chased after the globe's biggest superstars to a more youth-based approach. Even so, they've still spent big money on some of the best emerging talents from Brazil.

Where does Los Blancos' newly-acquired Brazilian trio stack up with the most expensive youngsters ever?

🏦 Most expensive players aged 18 or younger

  • 🇧🇷 Vinícius - €45m (Flamengo ✈️ R. Madrid)
  • 🇧🇷 Rodrygo - €45m (Santos ✈️ R. Madrid)
  • 🇵🇹 F. Silva - €40m (Porto ✈️ Wolves)
  • 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 L. Shaw - €37.5m (Soton ✈️ Man Utd)
  • 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 W. Rooney - €37m (Everton ✈️ Man Utd)

  • 🇵🇹 R. Sanches - €35m (Benfica ✈️ Bayern)
  • 🇮🇹 A. Bastoni - €31.1m (Atalanta ✈️ Inter)
  • 🇮🇹 A. Cassano - €31m (Bari ✈️ Roma)
  • 🇧🇷 Reinier - €30m (Flamengo ✈️ R. Madrid)
  • 🇫🇷 W. Saliba - €30m (S-Etienne ✈️ Arsenal)

In the case of Luke Shaw, Man United has learned that patience truly is a virtue. Their persistence with the 25-year-old ex-Saints man is paying off in a big way this season; in 2020-21 Shaw has developed into one of the most reliable left-backs in the Premier League. 

Talented box-to-box Lille midfielder Renato Sanches exploded onto the scene in 2016 with a string of mature performances for Portugal at Euro 2016. A big-money move to Bayern Munich followed but Sanches' career stalled in Germany.

Now 23, the powerful Portuguese star is flourishing in France and is back in the picture for his country. 

Of course, not all expensive signings become long-term success stories. Antonio Cassano is an example of a player whose talent, hype and reputation at a young age earned him a big-money move, but he never truly realized his massive potential. 

Shaw and Sanches serve as timely reminders to fans that knee-jerk judgments over players are unfair and, more often than not, wide of the mark.

No matter how talented footballers are, they need time to find their feet and forge an identity for themselves, especially youngsters.

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