Considerable expectation comes with being the most expensive player in English football history. Juan Sebastien Veron had that pressure when he arrived at Manchester United for over £28 million in 2001.

While a joy to watch at times, the Argentine was unquestionably a disappointment at Old Trafford, and was even sold to Chelsea for £15 million two years later. But is Veron really one of the biggest Premier League flops?

Firstly, it’s worth noting that he was also a let-down at Chelsea, so there’s a bit of a double-whammy here compared to many other flops.

Veron, though, was not a player who had an adverse effect on a team’s Premier League odds, nor did he lose all value during his time at Manchester United like other mega-flops have done.

Why It Didn’t Work Out

Consistency and durability were the primary issues for Veron rather than talent, as he discussed with the Manchester Evening News in 2016. 

"If I had one frustration it was that I had highs and lows every season. I was never at a high level throughout the whole season."

Veron was a bold signing because United already had a settled and all-time great midfield with Paul Scholes, Roy Keane, Ryan Giggs and David Beckham.

Sir Alex Ferguson changed formation to accommodate his big-money acquisition, and he started strongly, but the intensity, physicality and speed of the Premier League seemed to wear him down.

Neville on Veron

Ferguson ferociously defended Veron’s ability to the media, though no one was doubting his talent.

Speaking in 2020, his former teammate Gary Neville explained why it ultimately didn’t play out as everyone at Old Trafford hoped.

"Juan Sebastian Veron was an amazing player. In my opinion, it didn’t happen for him, because I think we had the best midfield English football has ever produced, and I think will ever produce.

"Giggs, Keane, Scholes, Becks. I think these four players are the best Manchester United have ever had. They were on another planet.

"The midfield four played in what I would call a methodical way. They played a disciplined role, and it was a classic 4-4-2. The way Veron played, coming out of Italy, he moved into different positions and was fluid, trying to get the ball from the left-back.

"He was almost the first player who broke the code. The code had to break at some point. Veron came in with that interchanging mindset, but into a team that was set into its patterns.

"It was nothing to do with him as a player or individual, because he was brilliant.”

Move Happened Too Soon

The style of Veron’s play would have slotted far better into the Premier League later in the 2000s or the early 2010s.

A move away from 4-4-2 across the topflight allowed teams to make room for players of his ilk, who were no longer regarded as luxuries.

When comparing to other high-profile Premier League flops, it feels important to mention that after his Chelsea move, Veron had accumulated the highest transfer fees of any player.

He again started well in west London, but didn’t have a major impact on football bets with injuries soon derailing his Stamford Bridge stay.

There are players who simply were not up to standard, outclassed by others in Premier League predictions. Veron doesn’t fall into that category.

Yet, the pair of substantial transfer fees (though those figures seem minute compared to transfer sums in the 2020s) have to play a part in how we evaluate his Premier League stay.

Veron was a signing to take an all-conquering United to something even greater, perhaps a potential quadruple.

At Chelsea, he was a statement acquisition from a direct rival, a clear announcement that Roman Abramovich’s wealth meant the Blues could sign the biggest stars.

While the transfer still carried significance, it was obviously a failure, with Chelsea unable to recoup any of their fee after a string of loans.

Veron isn’t the biggest flop of the Premier League era, but the transfer fees certainly put him up alongside other underachieving imports like Robinho, Alvaro Morata and Radamel Falcao.



Sam is a sports tipster, specialising in the Premier League and Champions League.

He covers most sports, including cricket and Formula One. Sam particularly enjoys those on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean – notably MLB and NBA.

Watching, writing and talking about sports betting takes up most of his time, whether that is for a day out at T20 Finals Day or a long night of basketball.

Having been writing for several years, Sam has been working with 888Sport since 2016, contributing multiple articles per week to the blog.