By the end of the transfer window, the Italian 'Tinkerman' had managed to secure the services of Glen Johnson, Geremi, Damien Duff, Hernan Crespo, Claude Makelele and Wayne Bridge, as new Russian owner Roman Abramovich started to flex his financial muscle.
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Cole, then 21, was signed from relegated West Ham United in a deal worth £6.6m, while Veron, then 28, was captured from Premier League rivals Manchester United for £15m. The midfield duo would go on to have very differing fortunes at Stamford Bridge.
Initially it appeared that Argentine international Veron was going to prove a shrewd acquisition when he scored on his debut during a 2-1 win away at Liverpool.
However, injuries set in, which in turn limited him to just 15 outings in all competitions that season. The following year he was loaned out to Serie A side Inter Milan, where he would spend two years in total before returning to his homeland with Estudiantes. It meant that the playmaker, who had also struggled to adapt to the English game at United, had cost Chelsea £1m for each appearance.
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In contrast, Cole enjoyed his time down King's Road. He won back-to-back Premier League titles between 2004 and 2006, becoming a key part of Jose Mourinho's starting lineup and scoring 15 times in the process.
When his time at the Bridge ended in 2010, he would also have two FA Cup medals and one League Cup medal to show for his stint with the Blues.
Cole then went to Liverpool on a free transfer, but after just a season at Anfield, he was loaned out to French side Lille. He briefly returned to Liverpool, but is now back where it all started for him - at Upton Park.