When Sir Alex Ferguson was in charge of Manchester United, he was widely regarded as one of the greatest managers of all time. He was known for his ability to spot talent and build successful teams, but even the best make mistakes. In 2002, Ferguson made what is widely considered to be his biggest transfer mistake ever when he signed Juan Sebastian Veron from Lazio for a then-record fee of £28.1 million.
Veron was a highly-rated midfielder who had been a key player for Lazio and had also been part of the Argentina team that won the World Cup in 1998. He was seen as the perfect player to add some creativity to United’s midfield and help them challenge for the Premier League title.
Unfortunately, Veron failed to live up to expectations at Old Trafford. He struggled to adapt to the pace and physicality of the Premier League and was unable to replicate the form he had shown in Italy. He was also hampered by injuries, which limited his playing time.
After two seasons, Ferguson decided to cut his losses and sold Veron to Chelsea for £15 million. It was a huge loss for United, who had paid almost double the amount for the player just two years earlier.
Fast forward to 2020 and Pep Guardiola has just recreated Ferguson’s blunder. The Manchester City manager signed midfielder Rodri from Atletico Madrid for a club-record fee of £62.8 million.
Like Veron, Rodri was a highly-rated midfielder who had been a key player for his previous club. He was seen as the perfect player to add some creativity to City’s midfield and help them challenge for the Premier League title.
However, there are some key differences between the two transfers. Firstly, Rodri is four years younger than Veron was when he joined United. This means that he has more time to adapt to the Premier League and reach his potential. Secondly, City have paid almost double the amount for Rodri than United did for Veron, which suggests that they are more confident in his ability to succeed.
Only time will tell if Rodri will be a success at City, but it is clear that Guardiola has taken a risk in signing him. It is a risk that could pay off, but it could also be a costly mistake if he fails to live up to expectations. Either way, it is a reminder of the biggest transfer mistake ever made by Sir Alex Ferguson.