Soccer Player Crespo in $55M Deal

Wednesday, July 12th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

ROME (AP) — Hernan Crespo is the most valuable soccer player in the world, acquired by Serie A champion Lazio in a record $55 million deal from another Italian club, AC Parma.

Crespo, a member of Argentina's national team, scored 22 goals last season, second in Italy behind AC Milan's Ukrainian forward Andriy Shevchenko.

That encouraged Lazio to part with the heftiest package ever for a soccer player, giving Parma two midfielders — Argentina's Matias Almeyda, valued at $20 million, and Portugal's Sergio Conceicao, valued at $17.5 million — plus $17.5 million in cash.

The $55 million total tops the $45 million deal last year that sent Christian Vieri from Lazio to Internazionale, and the $35 million move that sent another Argentine, Gabriel Batistuta, from Fiorentina to AS Roma, Lazio's crosstown rival, last month.

The arrival of Crespo, 25, who became Parma's all-time leading scorer in just four seasons, will bolster a Lazio club coming off its first league title since 1974.

``We take the best of the best. This is our slogan,'' Lazio owner Sergio Cragnotti was quoted as saying in Rome newspaper Corriere dello Sport on Wednesday, the day after the deal was confirmed.

Crespo will earn $4.5 million a year for five years, Italian media reported.

``Let's start by saying I'm proud to be the most sought-after forward in the world,'' Crespo said. ``But Lazio has already won the title without me, so it's up to me to show that I'm at the level of the best team in Italy.''