LONDON // Dimitar Berbatov's protracted transfer to Manchester United was finally made official last night with the Premier League champions agreeing a £30.75m (Dh202.4m) fee with Tottenham. The Red Devils' 20-year-old striker Frazier Campbell, a revelation in helping Hull City gain promotion to England's top-flight last season, has moved in the opposite direction on a season-long loan as part of the deal.
Spurs had been reluctant to part with their prized asset, especially after the sale of Robbie Keane to Liverpool last month, but United's persistence has finally paid off with the European summer transfer window now closed. The north London club had made an official complaint to the Premier League for United's "disgraceful" attempts to sign the Bulgarian international striker in breach of Premier League rules two months ago, but United's offer and the player recently stating of his "dream" to play for the reigning Premier League champions helped broker the deal.
In a dramatic twist of events yesterday afternoon, United's neighbours Manchester City made an audacious £25m bid to hijack their crosstown rival's long-running pursuit of the former Bayer Leverkusen player. The daring bid came just hours after City agreed to a takeover by the United Arab Emirates business group, Abu Dhabi United Group for Development and Investment, who had already signalled their intentions to cause a splash by securing the services of the Brazilian forward Robinho from Real Madrid for £32.5m from under the noses of Chelsea.
That prompted the United hierarchy to land their target at all costs, with Berbatov meeting Sir Alex Ferguson and United's chief executive David Gill last night to thrash out the deal before the midnight deadline. Berbatov, who joined Tottenham from Leverkusen in 2006 in a four-year deal, scored 23 goals in 52 appearances last season, including a penalty kick in Spurs' 2-1 win over Chelsea in the League Cup final.
Berbatov has been omitted from the Spurs team this season by manager Juande Ramos as he has actively sort a transfer to the Champions League winners. Spurs have been reluctant to lose their jewel in the crown, especially to United, after the way the club perceived the Manchester outfit 'tapped up' Michael Carrick two years ago, which saw the England midfielder make the same move north in July 2006.
Berbatov's acquisition bolsters a United front line already boasting the mercurial talents of Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez, but Ferguson's aim has always been to bring in a more traditional striker who plays up top and will have used the funds from the sale of Louis Saha to Everton to help finance the deal. In Berbatov, he may have signed the very best in Europe. Spurs, who signed the Russian striker Roman Pavlyuchenko from Spartak Moscow last week, also concluded the signing of the Croatian defender Vedran Corluka from Manchester City for £8.5m on a six-year deal, where he will link up with international teammate Luka Modric, signed from Dynamo Zagreb earlier this summer for a fee believed to be £15.8m.
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