Expectation couldn’t have been higher when Juan Sebastian Veron made the switch from Lazio to Manchester United in 2001.
Man United broke the British transfer record by forking over £28.1 million to sign Juan Sebastian Veron but the move didn’t quite go to plan.
While Veron did win the Premier League in his second and final season with United, he is widely considered a flop after failing to replicate the standards he set in Serie A.
United decided to cut their losses with Veron in 2003, when the Argentine midfielder was offered to Chelsea for a cut-price fee.
Reflecting on his time under Sir Alex Ferguson, Veron insists he has no regrets about signing for United.
“No, never,” Veron told FourFourTwo when asked if he regretted moving to Old Trafford. “I signed for United because I had a passport issue in Italy and thought a change of scenery would be good for my mind.
“Truth be told, I had a pessimistic view about playing in England, as I imagined that life there would be so different to what I was used to: the Latin lifestyle. But I found an extraordinary club. You could hardly find one as well-organised, with so many people willing to help.
“Everything that happened to me there changed my mind [about England]. I had two great years in Manchester, winning the Premier League title, and I’m still in touch with several of the guys I met: Dwight Yorke, Paul Scholes, Rio Ferdinand, Quinton Fortune, Wes Brown, John O’Shea. I met Gary and Phil Neville again at some point, too.”
Veron made 82 appearances for United but he admitted that he expected to have a greater impact for the Premier League club than he did.
Former teammate Rio Ferdinand has previously explained that Veron would have had more success with United if Roy Keane wasn’t at the club at the time.
And Veron is aware that Ferguson had to alter his already proven tactics and formation to fit the Argentine in, while Veron also conceded that the conditioning demands in England played a role in his struggles.
“I know that people expected a lot from me in England – and I did, let me make that clear,” Veron continued. “Perhaps it was something related to the characteristics of the players; if the club really needed me, in a position where there were decent options already. To make things work for me, the side – which was doing well – had to be changed.
“If there was one thing that played against me, I’d say it was the physical conditioning. I was used to the Italian way, which was key for our game, but in England during that time, the physical conditioning was to play games.
“I wasn’t used to playing without an intense preparation, and it wasn’t ideal for me in the long term. As we played more matches, my performance levels dropped.
“I had so many up and downs: a few really good games, but other poor ones. In Italy I managed to have a more stable spell, but I know that my time in English football wasn’t the best.”