By now, two things had happened. Zidane had left for a family holiday in Tahiti, having told Juventus that he wanted to move to Madrid. Secondly, Juventus had secured the signings of Lilian Thuram and Gianluigi Buffon from Parma and were preparing a bid for Lazio’s Pavel Nedved. Juve, a cautious club in the transfer market by Italian standards, had, in effect, already spent the money they expected to receive from Zidane’s sale.

On July 3, Perez flew to Italy and met Moggi to thrash out a deal. Three days later Moggi conceded defeat. The only remaining speculation concerned when Zidane would be unveiled as a Real Madrid player.

The Frenchman flew back early from his holiday and on July 9 was presented to the world’s media in Madrid.

The deal had repercussions throughout Serie A. Juventus, having also sold Filippo Inzaghi to Milan for œ26m, were able to splash out a total of œ81m on Thuram, Buffon and Nedved.

The sale of goalkeeper Buffon, in turn, initiated a domino effect, with Parma replacing him with young Frenchman Sebastien Frey from Inter, who signed Francesco Toldo from Fiorentina for œ18m.

But while fees are much higher than last year, much of the money changing hands is second-hand.

Juventus have effectively balanced the books with their summer trading. Lazio received more from the sales of Nedved and Juan Veron (a UK record œ28m to Manchester United) than they splashed out on Gaizka Mendieta and Stefano Fiore.

Parma received more than œ90m from their summer sales but spent a smaller figure in bringing in Frey, Hidetoshi Nakata (œ20m from Roma) and others for their Champions League campaign. Roma’s sale of Nakata paid for their biggest purchase, Antonio Cassano (œ18m, from Bari).