Thursday, June 16, 2011

The curtain closes on the curious case of Bebe, Manchester United's lost boy

Almost a year on, Manchester United today appeared to admit that some things may be too good to be true. In a curt, innocuous statement on their official website, the Premier League champions confirmed that Bebe, the Portuguese winger Sir Alex Ferguson signed for £7.4 million from Vitoria Guimaraes last summer, would spend the coming campaign on loan at the Turkish side Besiktas.

There was nothing surprising about the statement, nothing to distinguish it from the raft of similar declarations that will be made this summer. There was a brief description – perhaps a defence – of his year at Old Trafford. “Now his development will continue at Beskitas,” it read. Business as usual. There has never been anything usual, though, about Bebe’s story.

To ascribe his signing to a brief moment of folly from Ferguson, usually so calculated, is anathema, and it would be foolish to subscribe to the conspiracy theories which cast the deal in a rather darker light. But there is no question that, from the moment last August that Bebe completed his journey from homeless shelter in the dusty, downtrodden outskirts of Lisbon to Old Trafford, to a £12,000-a-week salary to the minute he agreed to join Besiktas – who can make the deal permanent for £2 million – this has been one of the most curious transfers of recent years.

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