Football Football

Evra’s word led Berba to Monaco


DIMITAR-BERBATOVMONACO, February 5 – Dimitar Berbatov said that a recommendation from his former Manchester United colleague Patrice Evra convinced him to join Monaco on loan at the end of the January transfer window.

The Bulgarian striker joined the club, who lie second in Ligue 1, on loan from Premier League strugglers Fulham until the end of the season to cover for Colombian star Radamel Falcao, who is out with a long-term knee injury.

The 33-year-old moves from a relegation battle in England to a title fight in France, with a meeting with Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain to come this weekend at the Stade Louis II.

“My friend Patrice Evra told me a lot of good things about the club. And when Monaco called me, I said why not. I was looking for something new,” said Berbatov, who played alongside the France left-back at Old Trafford between 2008 and 2012.

However, he said that the presence of enigmatic Italian coach Claudio Ranieri – another familiar face from his days in England – was also a factor in convincing him to make the switch to a new country.

“I decided to come here because it’s a great team. I know the coach. He was working in England, so it was an easy decision to make. I have never been here in France but I think the football, it’s really good.

“It’s a new experience for me and it’s a new adventure for me. I had the chance to train with my new teammates and it was really, really special because I saw how talented the players are that Monaco have.”

Considered something of a maverick and known for his languid style, Berbatov, who has also played for Bayer Leverkusen and Tottenham Hotspur, believes his way of playing will help him be successful in the French game.

“You guys, when you watch the game, you want to be entertained, not fall asleep. This is my goal,” he added.

“Today I saw really nice things from my teammates, really talented players, so it’s going to be good for me to work with them and hopefully my style of play is going to be good for the team and for the French league as well.”

Berbatov was unveiled to the press along with Monaco’s two other January signings, Nigerian left-back Elderson Echiejile and Tunisian centre-back Aymen Abdennour.

Echiejile has already made his debut since signing from Braga, but Abdennour, who arrived on an initial six-month loan deal with an option to take up a permanent four-year contract in the summer, will not be able to play for at least another two to three weeks with a thigh injury.

Berbatov, though, is likely to be in Ranieri’s squad for Sunday’s game against PSG, when a win will take Monaco to within two points of top spot.