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Most expensive U21 players in Premier League history following Hojlund and Gvardiol transfers

Manchester United and Manchester City’s latest transfers shows where the trend of big money transfers in the Premier League is headed.

The Red Devils splashed £72 million on Rasmus Hojlund, who is just 20 years of age, while their neighbours spent even more on 21-year-old defender Josko Gvardiol.

The latter is viewed as a surefire bet to be one of the best centre-backs in the game, while the former is seen as a rough diamond that can be moulded into a superstar striker.

Up until recently, spending this kind of money on young, relatively unproven players was unheard of. It was considered too great a risk to invest so heavily in mere potential.

The advent of analytics in the game, though, has shifted priorities, meaning clubs are less willing to spend a premium price on older stars with many miles on the clock and no resale value. Buying young means a club can get longer out of a promising youngster if they come good and can be more profitable in the long run.

Whether these signings pay off for these clubs remains to be seen. As this list of the dearest youngsters shows, it can be hit and miss at times.

Most expensive U21 players in Premier League history:

Christian Pulisic – £58m

Chelsea feature quite heavily here, starting with Captain America, Christian Pulisic. The wide forward arrived with high expectations after impressing at Borussia Dortmund, although Jadon Sancho had already usurped him in the first team by the team he left.

Pulisic picked up a Uefa Champions League winners medal in his second season, but failed to make an impact during his four years at the club. He left Stamford Bridge this summer to join AC Milan.

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Wesley Fofana – £70m

It is too early to call Wesley Fofana’s move to Chelsea a failed transfer, but the Frenchman has barely played for the Blues thanks to injury. After missing almost the entirety of the previous season for Leicester City, he picked up a knee problem last October that kept him out of action until February.

In July, Chelsea confirmed that Fofana injured his anterior cruciate ligament. Absolutely no luck.

Rasmus Hojland – £72m

There is muted excitement, if such a thing exists with Man United fans, around Hojlund’s signing. Erik ten Hag has high hopes for the striker, but he arrives for huge money on the back of a 10-goal season for Atalanta, and he has no experience in the Champions League. Patience will be required with this one.

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Kai Havertz – £72m

One of the most exciting prospects in Europe at the time of his move from Bayer Leverkusen, Chelsea never really figured out how to get the best out of Kai Havertz.

His winner in the 2021 Champions League final means he will always have a place in the west London club’s folklore, but fans weren’t overly upset when he joined rivals Arsenal this summer for £65m, which speaks volumes.

Jadon Sancho – £73m

Of all the names on this list, Jadon Sancho bore the highest expectations when he signed for Man United in 2021 after a long courtship. The Englishman was electric in black and yellow, but has looked a pale imitation in red.

Erik ten Hag will be determined to get the best out of him, as there is still a talented player in there, but it wouldn’t be the first time United have vastly overspent on a player who flattered to deceive.

Josko Gvardiol – £77m

Man City rarely get their big money signings wrong and all indications are pointing to another very good piece of business.

Josko Gvardiol joined from RB Leipzig this summer to reinforce Pep Guardiola’s newfound love affair with big, tall centre-backs. He now has a raft of them in his squad and it’s anyone’s guess who he will play on a weekly basis.

The Croatian only turned 21 in January, but already has a wealth of experience under his belt. He has been bossing it in the Bundesliga and Champions League the last two years, while he also played a key role in his national team’s run the semi-finals of the Fifa World Cup in 2022.

Read – Ranking the most expensive centre-backs in football history

Read Also – The Premier League teams with new captains this season

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