Former Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur striker Dimitar Berbatov who was world’s most expensive player at one time joined Indian Super League side Kerala Blasters on Wednesday evening. The news was confirmed by Berbatov’s agent who told Reuters that the Bulgarian has signed a one-year deal with the football side owned by Indian legend Sachin Tendulkar. The 36-year-old striker was out of contract for a while and joined the Kerala side as a marquee signing which means that his wages will not come under the salary cap set for every team.
Berbatov is Bulgaria’s all-time leading scorer with 48 goals in 79 matches. He had joined Manchester United from Tottenham Hotspur in 2008 for a then club-record fee of 30 million pounds ($39 million). At Manchester, he was a part of the destructive four-man attack which included Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez under former manager Sir Alex Ferguson. In Manchester, the Bulgarian scored 48 goals in 108 Premier League appearances, winning two league titles.
Berbatov will link up with Kerala’s new head coach Rene Meulensteen, who worked with him during his time at Old Trafford as well as Fulham. Last week, the Indian club also signed former Manchester United defender Wes Brown. Berbatov, named Bulgaria’s Footballer of the Year on seven occasions, has also played for CSKA Sofia, Bayer Leverkusen and Monaco during his illustrious career.
The signing of Berbatov is a huge step for Indian football which is still trying to find its feet at the world stage. The impact of ISL can be seen on the performance of national side which is now at the 97th spot in the FIFA rankings, its second best ever. Previously, legends like Andre Nesta, Roberto Carlos, Adrian Mutu, David Trezeguet and Florent Malouda have played for different franchises in the ISL.