With Antonio Valencia arriving and Manchester United looking at more players, the most recent name 20 year old Frenchman Gabriel Obertan, it’s time to look at Alex Ferguson’s less successful purchases in the recent decade – Juan Veron, Diego Forlan and Kleberson.
Juan Sebastian Veron
When you’re the most expensive transfer in the history of English soccer, you’re expected to be a hit. Juan Sebastian Veron, an Argentinian midfielder gained his fame after arriving in Sampdoria, coached by Sven-Goran Eriksson from Argentina. Immediately making an impression as a playmaker and his tenacious play in the middle of the field, Veron moved on to Parma and from there to Lazio. After winning the Scudetto with Lazio in 2000, again with Eriksson, Veron was considered one of the best central midfielders in the world. A year later, in July 2001, Manchester United snatched him for 28.1 million pounds, the highest transfer ever in the English game back then.
Despite scoring 5 goals in his debut season, Veron didn’t leave much of an impression and was heavily criticised for his level of play. United failed to win the league title that year for the first time since 1998. A year later they won it back, and Veron seemed to be adjusting himself to the life in England, especially with his Champions League performance in the group stages, but that didn’t carry on for the rest of the season. A decline in his form, only 2 league goals and an injury that caused him to miss the end of the season left another disappointing impression on his time at Old Trafford. Veron was sold to Chelsea in the summer for half the fee he was purchased and is considered one of the worst transfers in the Premiership’s history.
The man purchased to be the replacement of Juan Veron, Kleberson, arrived in the summer of 2003 for 6.5 million pounds – not record breaking but a hefty sum any way you look at it. His success at the Quarter, Semi and Final in the 2002 World Cup with the Brazilian national side brought a lot of attention to Kleberson from many clubs in England. Ferguson, hoping to emulate the success Arsenal had with Gilberto Silva that year, Kleberson’s partner in the Brazilian midfield, decided to go for the Atletico Paranaense player.
Like Veron, Kleberson didn’t leave much of a legacy at Old Trafford. He got injured early and often, playing only 20 games for United in two seasons. Alex Ferguson didn’t win a championship with Kleberson on the team. Like Veron who returned eventually to Argentina and plays for Estudiantes there, Kleberson is currently with Flamengo.
It’s hard to think of a player who has won two European Golden Boot awards as a flop, but the Uruguay international Diego Forlan was just that during his Manchester United days. Three seasons plus a game in 2004-2005, 63 league appearances, 10 goals. You’d expect more for a striker who was purchased for 7 millions pounds in January 2002 from Argentinian club Indepediente. Although one of the better strikers in Europe today, or maybe it’s just the comfort of the Spanish game, Forlan is more remembered for his horrible success rate in front of goal, with misses like this one.
Let’s not forget David Bellion and Erik Djemba Djemba, but they weren’t as high profile as the other transfers. Laurent Blanc wasn’t brilliant for United as well but did win a title with them in his retirement season. Fabien Barthez started out very well for the team in his first season but later on shifted from peaks of brilliant performances to abysmal and childish mistakes at goal. Louis Saha, purchased for over 12 million pounds did score goals when healthy, but never found a permanent spot in the United starting XI and never seemed to be fit for an entire season. We leave you with a Barthez blooper video, just to have you smiling in the end.