When Christian Vieri joined Internazionale for €43 million in the summer of 1999, he officially became the world’s most expensive football player. About to turn 26, the prolific striker had already played and scored for eight other clubs in his professional career. Amongst his previous clubs were the likes of Atletico Madrid, Juventus and Lazio. This was obviously a player in need of a more permanent home.
Despite there being no argument about Vieri’s ability and contribution, the same could not be said about his loyalty. It seemed as though, the Italian was taking advantage of his rising stock and scooping payouts with every transfer. Some might argue that this was down to advise stemming from his agent. However, it is hard to argue with that if both the player and the agent seem happy, mentally and financially. What is more, Vieri’s former agent Sergio Berti also lists the super-loyal Daniele De Rossi amongst the players he manages, so blaming the agent seems to be a rather weak attempt at explaining the player’s decisions to move on a regular basis.
In the end, it was Inter, where Vieri found a more permanent home, staying at the club for a total of six years and contributing 103 goals in 143 appearances. Nevertheless, Vieri did not really start to take it easy after leaving the club at the age of almost 32. When a lot of players often sign their last contract or make their last move, this nomad joined another six clubs before ending his career in 2009, aged 35.
It is almost impossible to argue with Vieri about his ability or about the contribution he made by scoring an incredible amount of goals, some of which can be classed as truly wonderful. However, it also seems somewhat ironic that his nomadic approach has spared him of winning several national championships, the only one coming in 1997 when he lifted the Serie A title with Juve. In fact, his total of titles amounts to seven, which also includes the Intercontinental Cup of 1996 or the Italian Supercoppa of 1998. For a superstar of his time, this could be classed as an underachievement.
We would have liked to have seen this unbelievable talent to have played for a club like Real Madrid, which would have been a perfect fit for Vieri during his peak. Arguably, he would have won more titles and more respect. Still, we remember Vieri for all the right reasons and hope for similar striking talent emerging from Italy in the future.