Manchester City have paid an unprecedented £175,000 to sign 13-year-old Finley Burns from Southend United.
The young defender had been attracting attention from a host of Premier League clubs but his family is said to have been swayed by City's impressive academy set-up.
The fee could rise to £250,000 depending on his future success, according to The Times who revealed what is thought to be a record transfer fee for a player so young. Southend are also said to be due a sell-on fee should Burns leave for another club.
Burns, who caught the eye playing for Southend's under-16s this season, is said to have moved to Manchester with his family.
"There were four or five Premier League clubs after Finley in the end and it’s extremely difficult to keep hold of a boy once that happens," Ricky Duncan, Southend's youth team boss, told the Essex Echo.
"We would prefer our best young players to come through and play for our first team but the fact Manchester City are aware of youth players at Southend United reflects very well on what everyone is doing here... We’re still in touch and we wish him all the very best for the future."
City were not obliged to pay such a high fee under the FA's Elite Player Performance (EPPP) regulations but were fending off competition from Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool for the player's signature.
EPPP rules determine how much compensation a club is due when a youth team player moves to another club based on their age and how long they have spent with the academy.
In Burns' case, City could have paid as little as £34,000 for the five years he spent with Southend.
Burns joins City at the same age Lionel Messi signed for Barcelona.
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