x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

No looking back for Berbatov

Manchester is where it's at as United and City battle it out to be the country's big spenders.

Dimitar Berbatov during training last Friday.
Dimitar Berbatov during training last Friday.

The Abu Dhabi consortium taking over Manchester City and apparently rewriting the principles of the football business are not due to touch down in the city to pore over their shiny new acquisition until Friday, but they are already larging it up North.

The happenings of the final day of this transfer deadline day, or even Abu Dhabi day as it should probably be remembered, can be wrapped into a dinky little package, but it was some rather big packages that saw all roads lead to Manchester from London and Madrid on Monday. Is it grim oop North? Not if you are Dimitar Berbatov or Robinho. A once industrialised hub of flat caps, whippets and textiles is now a staging post for indulgent millionaires, or billionaires depending on who you believe is funding the purchase of City.

As far as coming out parties are concerned, the Abu Dhabi United Group for Development and Investment running Manchester City arranged a regal bash. They snagged the Brazil winger Robinho for a British record £32.5million (Dh213`m) transfer fee from Real Madrid, and even the cake they got in the face from failing to disrupt Berbatov's £30m transfer to Manchester United from Tottenham probably tasted sweet.

Berbatov had been busy reading books on the history of United before his £30.75m move was finalised. "Joining United is a dream come true. I look forward to playing my part in helping this club win more honours," he said. "This is a key signing. Dimitar is one of the best and most exciting strikers in world football," commented his new manager Sir Alex Ferguson. Manchester seems to have transformed itself into the centre of world football after a couple of bedazzling days that would have rivalled any plot Coronation Street could have mustered.

In the football world, City now appear to browse in the same outlets as United, and are no longer comparable to Dev Alahan's corner shop. The man known as the Donald Trump of Abu Dhabi trumped Chelsea for Real Madrid's winger Robinho but discovered that the reputation of United can still break up the threat of hard finance. Dr Sulaiman al Fahim, the front man of the Abu Dhabi group, found that for every Robinho you manage to acquire, there is a Berbatov waiting to go elsewhere.

Manchester City will first face Berbatov in the Manchester derby. As there always is, there were other moves. Frazier Campbell joined Spurs on loan for the season as part of Berbatov's transfer. The London club also sealed the moves of Roman Pavlyuchenko from Spartak Moscow, and Vedran Corluka from City. Newcastle brought in Xisco from La Liga side Deportivo La Coruna. Everton spent a club record fee of £15m for Standard Liege midfielder Marouane Fellaini, while Liverpool completed an estimated £8m transfer of the winger Albert Riera from Espanyol.

But this was a day that will be recalled for Robinho and Berbatov's sojourn to Manchester. The story of one city, and its new industrial revolution. @Email:dkane@thenational.ae