ANDY COLE (Newcastle-United in 1995 – £ 7 million)
Transfer fees had passed in the mid-1990s and this deal was a bolt of lightning that nobody saw coming until it was passed. Keith Gillespie went the other way and was valued at around £ 1 million and this was an extraordinary deal in every sense. Newcastle boss Kevin Keegan was forced to defend the sale to angry supporters at St James’ Park since the top scorer of the Magpies was allowed to join United at a time when most of the reports connected the club with Stan Collymore of the Nottingham Forest.
It broke the previous record of £ 1.5 million (Paul Gascoigne’s move to Lazio in 1992) and increased pressure on Cole to perform, but said:
“I never set the rate. I was bought for my football and not to worry about the price. “ Cole had started the season with 14 goals in 17 games, but a splints operation had halted his progress and was on a sterile nine-game run before the money passed.
One of his 121 goals for the team was the title lob against Tottenham at Old Trafford in 1999.
JUAN SEBASTIAN VERON (Lazio-United in 2001 – £ 28.1 million)
When the 21st century was in full swing, the market had grown dramatically and this was an agreement that showed that United wanted to do business on the global stage. Veron’s father had scored against the Reds for Estudiantes in 1968, so the cultured midfielder had an affinity for the Reds. Real Madrid had also been passionate about the Argentine national team, but the transfer would have beaten the record amount paid by the Spanish giants for Nicolas Anelka a couple of years earlier.
“I never thought the day would come when I would spend so much money on a player” Sir Alex Ferguson confessed as he presented his new arrival.
“It’s a measure of how things have increased over the years and there isn’t much you can do about it. Thanks to the determination of Peter Kenyon and David Gill, they allowed us to sign one of the best players in the world. It’s the kind of thing Manchester United should do. “
Veron commented: “I know I will have an impact and nobody should worry about how I will adapt to the United style and if I will address the physical needs of English football.
“However, he spent only two seasons at Old Trafford, winning the 2002/03 Premier League before joining Chelsea, but nobody has ever doubted his quality.