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Football: Berbatov race goes to wire; FOOTBALL: Mad rush to beat transfer deadline.

Byline: By Simon Stone

MANCHESTER UNITED were burning the midnight oil last night to ensure their pursuit of Dimitar Berbatov eventually ended in success.

While it was still not exactly clear what permission United had from Tottenham to pursue the striker, they were happy enough to show Berbatov around their Carrington training complex before he underwent a medical.

In the meantime chief executive David Gill, manager Sir Alex Ferguson and legal expert Maurice Watkins attempted to find a way to bridge a pounds 5million gap in their offer compared to Tottenham's asking price.

And, although the minutes were continuing to tick down, an agreement was expected at some point before the deadline actually expired.

What is certain is that Manchester City, whose prospective new owners - the Abu Dhabi United Group for Development and Investment - are eager to flex their financial muscle and have no such problems as United in matching Spurs' asking price.

Spurs have already accepted their pounds 30million offer and the Blues are still hoping to pip their city rivals to the post.

"I am as stunned and excited by this as the fans are," City boss Mark Hughes said, barely able to take in events of such a tumultuous day himself as he took part in a charity golf day.

High-ranking City officials were not expecting the takeover, let alone bids for Berbatov and David Villa when the day began, so further surprises are possible and prospective new City owner Sulaiman Al-Fahim said: "I am hopeful about Berbatov, but I need to speak to our colleagues in England to see what the latest is.

"We have bids in for three players. There is Berbatov, but there is also David Villa and Mario Gomez. We have bids in for Villa and Gomez and I am waiting to hear whether we have been successful with those offers.

"Funds are available, and transfers such as these show we are serious."

However, having let Louis Saha join Everton, it seems inconceivable Ferguson would miss out on Berbatov now, especially with talks at such a seemingly advanced and involved stage.

CAPTION(S):

TARGET MAN... Dimitar Berbatov was shown around at Manchester United but City were still very much in the hunt.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Sep 2, 2008
Words:369
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