As the summer transfer window begins to draw to a close, most of the big named transfers have already taken place. There is one exception, however, as Manchester United striker Demitar Berbatov sits on the bench unsure about his place with the squad. The Bulgarian’s contract has a few months remaining on his current contract, but United has made little effort to resign the forward. So at this point, it would make sense financially to let Berbatov go on the transfer market.
Berbatov put in a solid showing for the Reds last season as he provided a goal scoring presence for the club when Wayne Rooney was going through his self-inflicted difficulties. In the end, Berbatov lead the Premier League in goals. There was some controversy in this; as thirteen of his twenty goals came against the backlines of the likes of Newcastle, West Ham, Blackburn, Birmingham, and Blackpool. Berbatov has always been considered a languid forward that has the remarkable ability to keep possession of the ball. But he also has the ability to drift out of matches which often times makes him appear lazy. Despite his efforts last season, as the season moved on Berbatov was passed over in the starting eleven by Chicharito Hernandez more times than not. Then in the Champions League Final, he was replaced as a reserve by veteran Michael Owen. This led many to believe that Berbatov’s days at Old Trafford were coming to an end.
But Sir Alex Ferguson has stuck by the striker this offseason. Despite having a bulk of forwards on the roster after re-signing the aging Michael Owen, Ferguson resisted offers to send Berbatov to clubs like Inter Milan and Paris Saint Germain. As the new season begins, Berbatov has found himself as the fourth choice at striker behind Rooney, Chicharito, and the young Danny Welbeck. It appears that Ferguson prefers to go with youth and pace to add to the explosiveness of United’s counter attack. Welbeck’s return from loan at Sunderland has been particularly troublesome for Berbatov’s chances as Welbeck has more burst in his game and comes at a smaller salary.
This tactic deployed by Ferguson has been somewhat curious because if Berbatov is not re-signed after this season, United risk losing him on a Bosman. Wouldn’t it make sense for Sir Alex to try and sell him now, no matter what the cost, just to try and recoup some of the thirty million that was originally spent on him? Even if United received half of what they spent, isn’t that better than zero?
There are a couple of possibilities about why United are hanging onto Berbatov at this point. First, they could be waiting until the January transfer window to see if there are any better offers for him. United also could be waiting to see if they need any reinforcements for the second half of the season and use Berbatov in some kind of trade. Lastly, the club holds a one-way option, which enabled them to add another twelve months on to the thirty year-old’s deal at any time of their choosing. If United eventually choose to pick up the contract option, they could try and sell Berbatov next season.
If United choose to keep Berbatov this season, he will undoubtedly get playing time at some point. Chicharito has already picked up a knock this season. Welbeck missed a large chunk of time last season due to an injury and with all of fixtures on the schedule, Rooney will need rest as the season goes on. But more than likely, if he does stay with the Reds, Berbatov runs the risk of being a very expensive League and F.A. Cup player and Ferguson could miss out on cashing in on a valued player.