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European football analyst Simon Evans
"Veron is made for the Premiership"
 real 14k

Friday, 6 July, 2001, 14:14 GMT 15:14 UK
Man Utd's 28.1m bargain
Juan Sebastian Veron
Veron: Key man in Lazio's scudetto success
By BBC Sport's Stefano Bozzi

If Zinedine Zidane is worth the 43.2m Real Madrid are about to shell out, then Manchester United's purchase of Juan Sebastian Veron at 28.1m is a bargain.

While Zidane is of course an exquisite talent, Veron provides more by way of his all-round game.

The Argentine is a dynamic midfield general, who alongside Roy Keane will form a far more solid central axis for United, strengthening an area where they were vulnerable in the Champions League last season.

But Veron is also blessed with a certain attacking verve, a player with all the tricks in the book as well as an acute tactical awareness of match situations.

Juan Sebastian Veron
Veron: Full of tricks

He's one of the game's finest passers, over all distances, while he also loves to make penetrating ball-carrying runs deep into opposition territory.

And Veron scores goals - usually spectacular ones.

He is a master in dead-ball situations - that could make for interesting discussions with the likes of David Beckham and Ryan Giggs - and will often try his luck from long range in open play.

Veron made his mark as soon as he arrived in Serie A.

Sampdoria took him to Italy from Argentina's Boca Juniors, and he shone like a beacon in their midfield.

Samp were at the start of their downward trend at this time.

  Juan Veron factfile
1975: Born Buenos Aires, Argentina
1994: Joins Estudiantes de la Plata
1996: Switches to Boca Juniors then moves to Serie A side Sampdoria
1998: Parma sign Veron for 13m
1999: Links up former coach Sven Goran Eriksson at Lazio for 20m
2000: Part of Lazio's double-winning side
2001: Embroiled in passport scandal for which he blames Lazio

From being a regular force on both the domestic and European scene, they were forced to cut costs and are now languishing in Serie B.

He played for Sven Goran Eriksson at the Genoa-based club and made a huge impression on the Swede.

But after just one season with Samp, Veron moved on.

Parma bid 13m to make him the fulcrum of their side that won the 1999 Uefa Cup and consistently challenged near the top of Serie A, albeit without ever winning the scudetto.

Another transfer beckoned, and with Eriksson now ensconced at ambitious Lazio and building a side that would become champions in 2000, Veron became his number one target.

New challenge

He moved to the capital for 20m and again made an instant impact. Lazio won the double and Veron was hailed the key man.

But after playing for three Italian clubs in five years - and last season being the central figure in the fake passport scandal - it became clear that the time had come for Veron to face a new challenge.

With Lazio also apparently set on clearing their decks - among much acrimony between the fans and club president Sergio Cragnotti - a move was inevitable.

Juan Sebastian Veron
Veron was the fulcrum of Parma's Uefa Cup-winning side

Inter showed interest but it appears that Veron's desire to test himself elsewhere, and United's determination to land a major player, have resulted in this transfer becoming a reality.

As Sir Alex Ferguson has said, he wanted a new signing who would give the club "a lift".

After breaking the British transfer record twice since winning their third successive title, not only will the addition of Veron and Ruud van Nistelrooy raise standards at Old Trafford, it will also shatter morale at their major rivals.

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See also:

04 Jul 01 |  Man Utd
Why Man Utd need Veron
05 Jul 01 |  Man Utd
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06 Jul 01 |  Man Utd
Scholes, Butt commit to Man Utd
04 Jul 01 |  Man Utd
Man Utd's keeper hunt
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