Juan Sebastian Veron

(Getty)

(Getty)

Almost everyone has an ex with whom they wish things had gone better. Sometimes, we will feel that we were to blame for the break-up. And, in such cases, we will always be a little anxious to see that he or she ends up happy. Football clubs and their star signings are no different. There is always something wistful about the on-pitch romance that doesn’t quite work out.

For Manchester United fans, Juan Sebastian Veron can claim to have been Old Trafford’s most mistreated sweetheart. When he came England in 2001, for the then otherworldly sum of 28.1 million pounds, he had recently led Lazio to their first Serie A title in over 40 years. He could also claim, during that victorious 1999-2000 season, to have rivalled Zinedine Zidane as the best central midfielder on the planet.

How far he was to fall. Two years later, his standing in the game much diminished, he was to leave for Chelsea for 15 million pounds. His value had halved, and in truth he looked less than half the player he had on his arrival.

(Getty)

(Getty)

It is widely accepted now — indeed, it was much suspected at the time — that Veron simply did not fit within that team, perhaps not even in that league. At Lazio, and at Parma before that, Veron had always had a midfield minder who would watch his back while he did his wondrous bidding. But he was to find no Diego Simeone or Matias Almeyda in Manchester. Here he was often to find himself at the heart of a 4-4-2 formation with Roy Keane, whose bursts forward frequently left him exposed. He also found himself effectively competing with Paul Scholes, who for several years had been excelling in a similar position. Nor was he the undisputed set piece taker, since David Beckham at that time probably delivered the best free kicks in the world.

The only times that Veron truly seemed comfortable in a Manchester United shirt was not in the Premier League — the pace of whose matches visibly bewildered him — but in the more sedate surroundings of the UEFA Champions League, where for a time he excelled. There he scored magnificent goals and provided superb assists both home and away, and it was only then that the relationship ever seemed that it was going to work.

(Getty)

(Getty)

…Veron eventually went back to Argentina and his first club, Estudiantes de la Plata. In 2009, with Veron as their outstanding player, Estudiantes won the first Copa Libertadores since Veron’s own father — a fine left winger — had brought the title home in 1970. It is very rare that players leave the Theatre of Dreams to find a fairytale elsewhere, but Veron will always be the most heartwarming exception to that rule. He went from Old Trafford to the happiest of marriages, and no one can begrudge him that.

Read Veron finds fairytale away from Theatre of Dreams

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2 Comments on “Juan Sebastian Veron”

  1. ashleytmh February 18, 2013 at 4:37 pm #

    I was very happy to see that he went elsewhere and was successful, coming from a Manchester United fan. But we always seem to have the problem of too many players for one position. Scholes & Keane, I mean there is barely a player in the world i would have put before them two in a Manchester United shirt. We’re going to have the same problem next year as we currently have 4 class strikers in, van Persie, Rooney, Hernandez & Welbeck, but Sir Alex has bought Zaha! I never question Sir Alex but i’m definitely interested to see how he works his way around having 5 top quality strikers, eager to play all the time.

    • Omer February 22, 2013 at 9:55 pm #

      I haven’t seen Zaha but I think he could start on the wings?

      and 4 strikers is good – you need competition and rotation. Welbeck is still learning so its important he has RVP to learn from. Rooney needs some motivation sometimes and nothing better than a Hernandez trying to get into the squad.

      I don’t understand why he doesn’t go for more solid midfielders….

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