ISL 2017: Ex-Manchester United star Dimitar Berbatov signs for Kerala Blasters
After days of minor haggling, Kerala Blasters have finally got their man, his agent has confirmed. The two-time Indian Super League runners-up have signed Dimitar Berbatov on a one-year deal, putting an end to all speculation suggesting the deal was off.
Berbatov's agent, Emil Danchev, confirmed the signing to the Bulgarian media, saying: "I can today say Dimitar Berbatov is a player of Kerala Blasters, a club that has finished in second place in two ISL seasons. Apparently, their bosses want to change things."
The former Manchester United striker will be announced by the Kochi-based club on the onset of Onam, their local festival. Berbatov's signing will set Kerala Blasters back by almost €1 million, which amounts to about ?7.5 crores for his four to five month stay in India.
The 36-year-old will link up with one of his former managers, Rene Meulensteen, at Kerala Blasters and will link up with his new teammates in Spain when the club start their preseason training ahead of the new season.
Danchev also confirmed that the Berbatov deal is satisfactory for both parties and that the Blasters left no stone unturned to sign a player they badly wanted. "The club really wanted to sign Dimitar. He'll be properly welcomed to India," added Danchev.
Earlier this summer, Kerala Blasters were mere spectators as one of their ISL rivals ATK sent a statement by splashing the cash on Ireland legend Robbie Keane. Now, however, the Blasters have their own marquee man, one which they have landed for lesser than Keane.
Berbatov will link up with Iain Hume and CK Vineeth in the Kerala Blasters attack next season. Both Hume and Vineeth are hardworking, tenacious forwards and Berbatov's languid elegance and artistry will help the Blasters a long way in reaching a second straight final next season.
That said, Bulgaria's all-time record goalscorer has not played for a year now after being released by Greek outfit PAOK last summer and will have his work cut out in the preseason. Meulensteen has a task in his hands to make his new-look team work as a unit to have any chance of success in what will be a more difficult ISL campaign later this year. In Meulensteen and former Manchester United team-mate Wes Brown, Berbatov will have familiar faces to work with at his new club.
Berbatov is the seventh new foreign signing this summer for Kerala Blasters ahead of the 2017-18 ISL season, which starts on 17th November.