Manchester United look set to break the world record transfer fee this summer with the signing of Paul Pogba from Italian giants Juventus, after his impressive Euro 2016 displays. If the transfer goes through, it will be the second time Manchester United have broken the British record transfer for a midfielder from Serie A …
Juan Sebastian Veron’s arrival 15 years ago today was Sir Alex Ferguson’s marquee summer signing, despite also bringing Ruud van Nistelrooy in for £19m from PSV Eindhoven in the same window.
The highly rated Veron arrived from Lazio for £28.1m, fresh from winning the league and cup double in Italy as Ferguson aimed for a fourth-successive Premier League title.
Perhaps more importantly, after consecutive disappointing quarter-final defeats in Europe, following the 1999 treble success, Ferguson was desperate to win the 2002 Champions League final at Hampden Park, in his native Glasgow, in what he had promised would be his final season in charge of United.
Veron was seen as the player to give United the continental composure and flair necessary to win the Champions League once more, in combination with Ruud van Nistelrooy’s goal poaching instinct.
Lazio’s manager at the time, Sven-Goran Eriksson, actually encouraged Veron to make the move and link up with David Beckham, Paul Scholes and Roy Keane in the United midfield.
The Argentine himself was equally excited to be joining such a big club, given that his father scored against the Red Devils while playing for Estudiantes in the 1968 World Club Cup. Veron Junior had also played for Estudiantes and had heard his father’s stories of playing against a Manchester United team who had just been crowned European champions and boasted the likes of Bobby Charlton and George Best.
Upon signing, Veron said he had no fear of the Premier League, although given his performances in the red of United, perhaps he should have paid more heed to the unqiue requirements of top flight football in England.
But the midfield reshuffle required to accommodate Veron marginalised Paul Scholes, negated much of what had been good about United’s attacking play and ultimately led to Arsenal winning the double, as the Red Devils slipped to third behind rivals Liverpool.
Despite initially dismissing any worries about the pace of the Premier League, and going on to play a part in a title-winning team, Veron struggled throughout his time in England, and he was unable to help the club reach the Champions League final during his two seasons at Old Trafford.
Ferguson launched an expletive-laden criticism of Veron’s critics, calling the media ‘f****** idiots’ for questioning his signing, but the Argentina international left Old Trafford to join Chelsea in a £15m move at the end of United’s title-winning 2002/03 season.
He only played seven times for the Blues before being loaned to Inter Milan and then Estudiantes before moving back to Argentina permanently in 2007.