Teenage Kicks – Best & Worst Teenage Transfers!
Red Bull Leipzig pulled off one of the most surprising transfers of the summer when they signed 19-year-old Oliver Burke from Nottingham Forest at the weekend for £15 million.
The young winger had been coveted by many of Europe’s top clubs and it will be intriguing to see whether he can bring his Championship form to the Bundesliga.
Here’s a look at some big- money teenage transfer hits and flops from down the years.
Mark Kennedy, £1.5 million
Liverpool broke the British transfer record for a teenager when they splashed out £1.5 million for the 18-year-old winger who’d excelled at Millwall under Mick McCarthy. However, he didn’t get many opportunities at Anfield to prove himself, restricted to just five starts in three seasons at a club already boasting the likes of John Barnes, Steve McManaman and Patrick Berger on the wings.
Pool actually made a profit on him when they offloaded him to Wimbledon, the next stop on a nomadic career that ended at Ipswich Town in 2012. He was an important squad player for Ireland under McCarthy, but is possibly best remembered in his home country for his arrest, along with Phil Babb, for drunkenly damaging the side of a policewoman’s car. Sadly, it was the most damage he’d done on the wing for quite a while.
Robbie Keane, £6 million
The LA Galaxy striker has gone on to be transferred for cumulative transfer fees of over £90 million, making him one of the most expensive players of all-time. However, he was relatively unknown as a 19-year-old who made a £6 million move from Wolves to Coventry City in 1999.
His form after just one season at Highfield Road led to a shock £13 million move to Inter Milan, where “Baby Irish” struggled to supplant the likes of Ronaldo, Christian Vieri, Alvaro Recoba and Hakan Sukur from the first-team. A move to Leeds United’s “babies” under David O’Leary beckoned before spells at a series of British clubs while becoming Ireland’s record goalscorer.
Jermaine Pennant, £2 million
Pennant’s £2 million move from Notts County to Arsenal in 1999 sent shockwaves through English football, with the transfer a record transfer fee for a trainee, who was yet to make an appearance at Meadow Lane. However, a series of disciplinary problems did not go down too well with Arsene Wenger and he made just 12 appearances in his six years at the club.
Sadly his potential was never realised and he’ll be best remembered for losing Porsches rather than opponents and an electronic tag following a prison spell, that weighed as heavily on Pennant as his early price tag. He’s had largely unsuccessful spells at a series of clubs, including Liverpool, and recently moved to Tampine Rovers in Singapore.
Steve Simonsen, £3.3 million
Steve who? In 1998, Tranmere’s Simonsen became British football’s most expensive teenager and goalkeeper after his short move to Everton. He made only 30 appearances for The Toffees before David Moyes’ arrival signaled the end of his career at the club.
He’s had successful spells at Stoke City and Sheffield United but failed to live up to his early promise, with many predicting at the time that the keeper with four Under-21 caps was a future England international. His most recent club was FC Pune City in the Indian Super League.
Gareth Bale & Theo Walcott, £7 million & £9 million
Gareth Bale didn’t get off to the best of starts at Tottenham following his move from Southampton. He was linked to a series of loan moves before his conversion at Spurs to a more attacking role led to him becoming the most expensive player in football history.
Southampton’s teenage alumni have generally tended to be a success at their new clubs. Theo Walcott made his £9 million move at just 16 years of age and the early hype, and bizarre inclusion in Sven Goran Eriksson’s 2006 World Cup squad, didn’t help him at first. It says a lot about Walcott that, after ten years at Arsenal, it’s still difficult to pinpoint his best position – and whether he’s been a hit or a miss.