Juan Sebastian Veron
D.O.B: March 9th, 1975
Birth Place: La Plata, Argentina
Current club: Chelsea
Previous clubs: Estudiantes, Boca Juniors, Sampdoria, Parma, Lazio, Manchester United
At Â£28.1 million, Juan Sebastian Veron was the most expensive player in British football (until, of course, Manchester United splashed out Â£30 million on Rio Ferdinand). He arrived at Manchester United in the summer of 2001 with a towering reputation, having played in the World Cup for Argentina, and won plenty of trophies with Lazio (including the last ever European Cup Winners Cup, and the double of Serie A and the Copa Italia).
However, there was a shadow over his departure from Lazio; since Sven-Goran Eriksson left them in 2000 to manage the England national team, Lazio's form had faltered somewhat, and Veron himself became embroiled in a fake passport scandal. Although he was exonerated, he fell out of favour at Lazio, and was sold to United.
Given his proven talent, Veron has had a very disappointing season with United. His arrival caused some upheaval in the tried and true midfield combination of Roy Keane, Nicky Butt or Paul Scholes, with David Beckham and Ryan Giggs on the wings. At first, Alex Ferguson left Beckham out, playing Veron on the wing, as opposed to his usual central role. Later, Keane was moved into central defence to accomodate Veron in central midfield; or Butt or Scholes would be left out. Ferguson stood by him all season, despite his loss of form.
Watching Veron play for Man U during 2001/2002 was somewhat tragic. He is definitely a very talented player; on receiving the ball, his first touch is beautiful, and his running is excellent... but, when he tries to pass or shoot, it all just seems to go wrong for him. At 27, he should have been playing the best football of his career... He displayed occasional touches of brilliance, mainly in the Champions' League, but no consistency. The following season, however, during Roy Keane's absence and injuries to Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt, David Beckham - the core of Alex Ferguson's starting eleven - in the 2002/2003 season, Veron rose to the challenge, and started to play the sort of football that Manchester United paid Â£28 million for.
In August 2003, following their takeover by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, Chelsea paid around Â£15 million for Seba's services - representing quite a loss for Manchester United. In the first half of the season, Seba was moved around quite a bit, as Chelsea manager Claudio Ranieri tinkered with his team's formation to best accomodate the Â£110 million worth of new talent at his disposal. At first he was played on the wing, unsuccessfully, but in the Champions' League, Veron was played at the front of a midfield diamond formation, where he dominated.
Unfortunately, Veron is set to miss out on much of the second half of the 2003/2004 season due to a back injury. He has most recently been in the news because his house was burgled by a man with a machete, who threatened Veron and his girlfriend, and stole around Â£60,000 worth of jewelry.