The stocky Italian and 2006 World Cup-winning captain's allegiance to the North Bengal franchise translates into a whopping Rs 4.13 crore, signalling the advent of big money in sport apart from cricket in India. Five days ahead of the IPL 5 auction in Bangalore,football flexed some serious financial muscle -- Corporate honchos and big businessmen from Bengal returned home as owners of five IPL-like franchises.
On Monday, the IPL may have been a benchmark for most bidders, but they also saw the potential of PLS playing game-changer as India is beginning to understand football's global reach.
A whopping total of $7.1m (Rs 34.93 crore) was splashed on foreign players and coaches in less than two hours, making it by far the most expensive show in Indian football.
"It's a unique experiment and (Hernan) Crespo is really looking forward to it. This PLS has already created a buzz in Italy," said the Argentine striker's agent, Gianluca Chibbaro, who came all the way from Rome to witness the play of purse here.
Crespo, who once held the world record transfer fee, emerged the most expensive of the five 'icons' when Team Barasat - which is going to be christened 'U ro Masketeers' - took him on board for $840,000 (Rs 4.18 crore).
Team Kolkata, owned by Camellia Group, decided to go all out for Liverpool's Robbie Fowler, leaving former Nigerian World Cupper Jay Jay Okocha 'unsold'. With Team Howrah failing to grab their preferred 'icon' during the auction, they ended up with Okocha in their fold.
The bid for World Cup winner from France, Robert Pires (base price $715,000) was most intense with all franchises but Team Kolkata engaged in the battle. Team Howrah - who will be named Howrah Manchester Sports - eventually claimed the ex-Arsenal legend at $800,000 (Rs 3.98 crore).
Kolkata stayed loyal to their penchant for an English look to the team, snatching former Manchester City and England under-21 manager Peter Reid by coughing up $200,000.
EYE ON ICONS
HERNAN CRESPO , Argentina, (Lazio, Inter Milan)
Age: 36; Team: Barasat; Price: $840,000; Biggest transfer fee (in career) £35m; (Lazio from Parma in 2000) *Then world record transfer fee
FABIO CANNAVARO , Italy, (Juventus, Inter Milan)
Age: 38; Team: Siliguri Price: $830,000; Biggest transfer fee (in career): 23m euros (Inter Milan from Parma in 2002)
ROBERT PIRES , France, (Arsenal)
Age: 38; Team: Howrah; Price: $800,000; Biggest transfer fee (in career): £6m (Arsenal from Marseille)
ROBBIE FOWLER , England, (Liverpool)
Age: 36; Team: Kolkata; Price: $530,000; Biggest transfer fee (in career): £12 million; (Leeds United from Liverpool in 2001)
JAY-JAY OKOCHA , Nigeria, (Bolton, PSG)
Age: 38; Team: Durgapur; Price: $550,000; Biggest transfer fee (in career): $24 million (PSG from Fenerbahce in 1998) *Then world record transfer for an African