Fri, May 24 2013
Bulgarian striker Dimitar Berbatov's long-awaited transfer to Manchester United, announced nearly an hour after the transfer window shut closed on midnight September 1, did not surprise any of Britain's leading newspapers.
Facing competition from Manchester's other Premier League outfit, City, for the Bulgarian's signature, United relented to match Tottenham's asking price and paid £30.75 million (38 million euro), sending striker Fraizer Campbell on a season-long to White Hart Lane as well.
"Berbatov's future had been up in the air for most of the day, with the Bulgaria forward hoping to complete his dream move to United, only to see the clubs squabbling over the transfer fee, with Manchester City trying to hijack the deal to boot," The Times' Gary Jacob said.
City's bid, coming minutes after a company owned by the Abu Dhabi royal family agreed to buy the club, gave White Hart Lane the leverage it needed to push the price higher, which United eventually had to do, but not before flouting Premier League regulations by showing Berbatov around their training base without Tottenham's consent.
"Even on one of the craziest evenings in the history of the transfer market, the sight of Dimitar Berbatov, a Tottenham player granted permission to talk to Manchester City, wandering along a corridor at Old Trafford with Sir Alex Ferguson was spectacularly brazen," Daily Telegraph's football correspondent Henry Winter wrote in his piece on September 2.
"For neutrals who feel there are other more principled ways of conducting business with an opponent's star player, the scene stirred only unease. While everyone catches their breath this morning, and reflects on a mad, money-filled night, the Premier League must inspect United's conduct regarding Berbatov.
"United, quite rightly, complained about Real Madrid's indiscreet courtship of Cristiano Ronaldo and Spurs have every right to feel aggrieved over United's pursuit of Berbatov. For the Premier League to work as a collective concept, there must be respect in dealings between clubs."
At the Daily Mail, Ian Ladyman takes a less indignant stance: "As the day grew ever more intriguing, there were reports that Ferguson drove away from Carrington with Berbatov hiding on the back seat under a blanket. The Bulgarian was later captured by TV cameras shaking hands with United chief executive David Gill and manager Ferguson at Old Trafford.
"Meanwhile in London, Tottenham officials fumed at United's behaviour and continued to stress that their Premier League rivals had absolutely no right to be talking to the player.
"Even as United pushed the deal through, Tottenham were privately talking about reporting them to the Premier League and even about possible High Court action, though they later relented when United came close to matching their £32 million valuation."
Elsewhere, the resolution of the protracted transfer saga gets only a mention, with the focus firmly on Manchester City's other audacious last-hour bid, this time for Real Madrid's striker Robinho, targeted by Chelsea.
Here, City were successful and set a new British transfer record in the process, Daniel Taylor from The Guardian wrote: "The Brazilian has cost a British-record £32.5 million after a remarkable transfer-deadline day in which Manchester United managed to rush through Dimitar Berbatov's signing on a four year-deal for a fee of £30.75 million."
"City were unable to compete with United, however, when it came to Berbatov, despite offering Tottenham a more lucrative deal and letting the Bulgarian know through intermediaries that they would pay him more in wages."
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