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Juan Sebastian Veron had a torrid time in England and it was partly down to Roy Keane… seriously.

Veron is a name Manchester United and Chelsea fans would rather forget, despite the huge promise and expectation he brought with him back in 2001.

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Ferguson broke the British transfer record to bring Veron to Old Trafford

The Argentine was so highly thought of by Sir Alex Ferguson that he broke the British transfer record when Man United signed him for £28.1million from Lazio in 2001.

He developed a reputation as a versatile midfielder, capable of playing in the advanced playmaker role and equally as adept as a defensive midfielder.

Veron was well established in a star-studded Argentina side that featured the likes of Gabriel Batistuta and Diego Simeone. He even started the infamous World Cup match against England in 1998.

Things actually started pretty well when he joined United and scored in three of their four games in September 2001, leading to a Premier League Player of the Month award.

As his first season progressed, though, he struggled to keep up with the relentlessness of the English schedule.

The criticism of Veron led to an expletive-laden tirade from Ferguson in May 2002, where he ordered journalists to leave the training ground.


After a bright start, Veron struggled to make an impact at United

AFP

After a bright start, Veron struggled to make an impact at United

“He [Veron] is a f****** great player” were his parting words. “And you’re all f****** idiots.”

The pressure was on during his second season, but his performances were not up to what fans and pundits expected from a man who was the record British transfer.

United decided to cut their losses at the end of the 2002/03 season when they sold him to Chelsea for £15m.

Rio Ferdinand admitted that Veron was as great as Ferguson believed, but another club stalwart was perhaps the reason he didn’t succeed.

“One of the best players I’ve ever played with,” Ferdinand told Vibe with Five.

“He’s one of a handful of players I’ve seen who makes the whole training ground stop and say, ‘did you see that?’.

“I think Roy Keane was his biggest problem and I think he’d tell you that.

Keane’s dominance in the United midfield didn’t fit with Veron’s way of playing

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Keane’s dominance in the United midfield didn’t fit with Veron’s way of playing

“In all the teams Seba Veron played in he was the go-to guy. He’d get the ball off the defenders, he’d be joining the defenders with the attack, he’d be knitting everything together.

“He comes to Man United, as he’s going to get the ball off the back four Roy Keane is already there screaming. And if Roy Keane ain’t in the right position and Seba is, Roy Keane has got the loudest voice.

“When you’re on a pitch and there’s a crowd, sometimes you don’t look who you’re playing to, you play where you hear sometimes. So all of a sudden you hear that [from Roy Keane] and straight away you go there. Sometimes you play like that, especially if you’re under a bit of pressure, depends on the players, but a lot of players play like they, they play to what they hear.

“So Seba sometimes wasn’t getting the ball in the areas where he normally would, so it wasn’t as normal for him in the Man United team. That’s the only reason he failed, it wasn’t based on ability.

“Because, listen, if it was on ability and I’m putting the ball on a sixpence for a player, he did some mad things. In a friendly in America for Ruud [van Nistelrooy] he scored against Juventus in the New York Giants stadium, Ruud scored some mad volley but the pass from Seba was nuts. He did some mad stuff.”

Veron made just 14 appearances for Chelsea

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Veron made just 14 appearances for Chelsea

Veron’s switch to Stamford Bridge did nothing to improve his fortunes either in the beginnings of the Roman Abramovich era.

After just 14 appearances in the 2003/04 season, he was shipped out on loan to Inter Milan and then to his boyhood Argentine club Estudiantes.

He finished his career there and was even playing as recently as the 2016/17 season.

Manchester United and Chelsea supporters may be wondering what could have been if Veron had been able to show that undoubted skill and talent in the Premier League.

There have been a few more successful switches in recent years, with Juan Mata and Nemanja Matic crossing from the Blues to Manchester.

Lukaku went from Chelsea to Everton, Man United, Inter Milan before a return to Stamford Bridge in the summer, but the jury is still out on whether he will be a success.

Thursday’s Premier League clash between the two sides will be another chance to prove he will not be a disappointment like Veron.

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