Christian Vieri, once the most expensive player in the world, has been linked with Moroka Swallows.Should the Birds sign the former Italian World Cup striker, it would represent one of the biggest transfer coups in South African football history.
A number of reports from Italy at the weekend are claiming that Swallows are tracking the former Azzurri striker. According to respected Italian sports publication Gazzetta dello Sport, the Bologna-born, Australian-raised 35-year-old left Atalanta last month following a mutual agreement.
Swallows CEO Leon Prins admits that the club have been offered Vieri’s services by an agent, but told KickOff.com, “Nothing further has been done – we still want to see videos of him in action – he is a legendary striker, but he is 35.”
Swallows usually keep a tight rein on salaries and it is difficult to see them splashing the cash, although Prins is adamant “it is Vieri’s camp who approached us, not the other way round".
It should also be remembered that Swallows are owned by one of central Europe’s richest men, the German Dieter Bock. Vieri is one of the most-travelled footballers in the modern game, having played for 12 different clubs including spells at Lazio, Inter, Juventus, Atletico Madrid and Monaco.
Vieri’s 1999 move from Lazio to Inter Milan set a then world transfer record of $49-million. He is still the fourth-most expensive player of all time behind Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo and Hernan Crespo.
Vieri’s career dipped ahead of Germany 2006 because of poor form and a string of injuries, but coach Marcello Lippi always indicated a place was available if he returned to match fitness. His longest spell at any one club was his six years at Inter, where he scored 122 goals in all competitions and notched up 24 goals in 23 league matches in 2002-03.