The year is 1999.
Bitcoins don’t exist, finger spinners are a niche breakdancing group from South Korea and the only spice epidemic taking hold in England are the Spice Girls.
But, more importantly, Serie A clubs are ripping each other off left, right and centre.
Italian football was in its prime, producing five Champions League winners between 1993 and 1998.
Heading into the summer of 1999 one of Milan or Juventus had won the last eight Serie A titles.
Life was good. Money was flowing and clubs weren’t afraid to spend it, all of which made for some ridiculously overpriced deals.
Christian Vieri- Lazio to Inter Milan for £28m (1999)
There was plenty of hype when Inter spent a world-record fee of £28m to sign Vieri from Lazio, partnering the cricket enthusiast with Ronaldo.
You’d be forgiven for thinking he’d been banging the goals in the season before, but in fact he scored 12 times in his one and only season at Lazio.
He managed one better at Inter, before going on a purple patch of 18, 22 and 24 goal seasons.
All good things come to an end though. Vieri wasn’t able to score more than 13 goals a season in the last six years of an injury-hit career.
Marcio Amoroso- Udinese to Parma for £25m (1999)
After a breakout season partnering Oliver Bierhoff at Udinese big things were expected of Brazilian striker Amoroso.
Twenty-two goals powered Udinese to sixth place in Serie A and Amoroso, who finished as top scorer, to one of the most expensive strikers on the planet.
Parma must have signed his brother because he followed up that season by scoring 11 goals in two years for his new club.
He still became the most expensive German signing at the time when he moved to Borussia Dortmund in 2001. Whoever brokered that deal deserves an MBE.
Vincenzo Montella- Sampdoria to Roma for £22.5m (1999)
Montella’s move to Roma wasn’t the best for timing.
An encouraging opening campaign was kiboshed by Fabio Capello’s desire for a ‘tall’ striker, who came in the shape of Gabriel Batistuta.
He spent nine years in the Eternal City but often found himself on the sidelines, although the 2004/05 campaign, in which he scored 21 goals, was a highlight.
Hernan Crespo- Parma to Lazio for £40m (2000)
A career-high 22 goals during the 1999/00 season convinced Lazio to splash a world-record £35m on walking Head and Shoulders advert Crespo in the summer of 2000.
His first season was a success on a personal level, although Lazio were beaten to the title by arch-rivals Roma in Francesco Totti’s only Serie A win.
That would be as good as it got for Crespo, who never scored more than 14 league goals in the remaining 12 seasons of his career, only reaching double figures five times.
Rui Costa- Fiorentina to AC Milan for £30m (2001)
After seven glorious years in Florence it was time for Portuguese maestro Rui Costa to swap Fiorentina for Milan.
It took him three seasons to register a goal in Serie A and in five league campaigns with the Rossoneri he only found the back of the net on four occasions.
In the end the arrival of a lanky Brazilian named Kaka put paid to his Milan career, with Costa seeing out his playing days at Benfica.
Antonio Cassano- Bari to Roma for £19m (2001)
Six goals in 48 games for Bari was enough for Roma to make Cassano one of the most expensive teenagers in world football when he moved to the capital in 2001.
Unfortunately there was one thing bigger than Cassano’s transfer fee- his love of focaccia.
Spells at Real Madrid, Sampdoria, both Milan sides, Parma and Sampdoria followed but he was never able to put a consistent run of form together.
In true maverick style he retired, un-retired then retired again to live out the rest of what we can only imagine will be a very fun life.
Stefano Fiore- Udinese to Lazio for £22.5m (2001)
Fiore became something of an Italian James Milner after swapping Udinese for Lazio in 2001.
He was played out wide by Alberto Zaccheroni but struggled to the extent that he was dropped by Italy.
By the time Lazio started to get the best out of him in centre-midfield financial difficulties meant he was sold to Valencia.
Marcelo Salas- Lazio to Juventus for £22.5m (2001)
Ahh Salas. What could have been?
Two league goals in two years isn’t a great start, but that’s not even the worst of it.
Cristiano Ronaldo was all set to move to Juventus only for the deal to collapse due to Salas’ refusal to move in the opposite direction.
Wonder what that Ronaldo guy is up to these days?
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