Much Ado About Berba

PSG, Anzhi, Valencia, Napoli, Tottenham, the list goes on… several suitors are already lined up for Dimitar Berbatov’s services. While a plane ticket out of Manchester seems to be booked already, I say “Not so fast people!” First and foremost, let’s summarize the current situation for Berba this season: 10 total appearances, 1 goal; quite a different story from last year when the Bulgarian lead the Premier League in goals.

Is Berba becoming fed up with life on the bench?

So what seems to be the problem? Overall, this seems to be an issue of form, but also an issue of favor. United boss Sir Alex Ferguson is renowned for tinkering with his line-up, especially when it involves getting younger players involved in the first-team squad. When Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez got hot at the end of last season, Berbatov saw far fewer starts (including an omission from the squad in the Champions League Final in May). Danny Welbeck’s blazing form at the start of the 2011-12 campaign, succeeded in pushing Berba even further down the depth chart. The British media fueled rumors of Berba being shopped around Europe before the transfer deadline in August. Berbatov stayed on in Manchester but has retained his firm place on the bench. So here we are today: another high-priced, renowned goalscorer with no place on the pitch.

Where does Berba go from here? His agent initially claimed that his client was very happy at Old Trafford and planned on staying and competing for his position in the line-up. This week, Berbatov’s agent gave the first indication that a move could be on afterall, claiming he “will sit down with Dimitar and ponder” a move to newlly-rich Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala. This wouldn’t be a shock considering Berba spent his early years with CSKA Sofia, and a move to Russia would be much closer to home.

But Sir Alex Ferguson, being the wiley old Scotsman he is, has scuppered all rumors saying exactly what should be said. “We have no plans to sell (him)”. Given their injury history, and Wayne Rooney’s penchant for kicking out at opponents on a whim, Man Utd could surely use all the depth they can get at forward. Welbeck, Hernandez, and Michael Owen have all suffered injuries already this season, and a rash of ill-timed knocks could push the ever-ready Berbatov right back into the starting line-up.

The Berba signed on with man Utd in 2008 for £30.75 million

As most savvy United fans might point out, the Bulgarian’s contract runs out in May. Thus, a transfer in January would be far more profitable than letting him go for free 5 months later. So although Anzhi didnt light the world on fire this season (8th in the table), the Russian club still looks sexy for any high-profile stars looking for more playing time. Samuelo Eto’o has managed to net 7 goals in a few short months, and the team has looked more competitive as of late. Plus, the possibility of Champions League football could certainly be in the cards in the next year or two.

At the end of the day, it seems as though the Berbatov camp would approve any move that brought more playing time. But ultimately, it will be up to Fergie. While noone at United wants this to turn into an ugly incident like the Carlos Tevez saga across town, a bigger question still rules all. If Berba is allowed to go, United will be missing a big offensive threat, should someone go down with an injury. Is that a risk the veteran gaffer can take? especially with United already 5 points down to rival Man City….

Gratuitous photo

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