Reports from both The Daily Mirror and The Daily Express, claim that Sir Alex Ferguson is ready to offer Dimitar Berbatov a new contract taking him past the 18 months his current deal has to run. Although neither of those publications could be considered the last bastion of journalistic integrity the suggestion does make a lot of sense.
With Berbatov turning 30 tomorrow- don’t worry son, we’ve all been there- there was a notion throughout many in the media that his current United deal would be his last. Let’s not forget though, these are the same people that expected Michael Carrick, Ji-Sung Park and Wayne Rooney to be plying their trade elsewhere by the end of the transfer window. Commenting on the Bulgarian’s contract situation Sir Alex said:
“It’s not an issue for us,
“He’s under contract at the moment, I don’t know how long he’s got, but it’s not an issue for us.”
Now that while that’s hardly a statement of intent to tie Berbatov to a longer deal, the feeling around both the club and the media is that a new contract has long been considered a given. Earlier this month The Manchester Evening Blues, sorry, News reported that the Bulgarian was to be offered a new three year deal. Berbatov’s current deal expires in 18 months when he’ll be 32- obviously. The suggestion is that Berbatov will be offered more money and a three year extension.
This may seem like a bad idea from United for a player who’s only one day away from his thirties but when you consider all the factors it makes perfect sense. Berbatov has hit top form for United after struggling- at least goal scoring wise- with the sheer size and expectation at the club – his 20 goals this season, are beyond even most fervent Berba-fan’s expectations and have made the idea of a 30-goal haul look probable rather than possible.
It’s not just Berbatov’s current form that makes the deal attractive for United- there’s several other facets which make this a no-brainer for the club.
For starters, there’s Berbatov’s attitude, not many £30 million pound strikers would be willing to warm the bench – or even worse be second choice substitute to a man destined to leave- in a Champion’s League Final. There’s not many strikers who would put up with abuse from their own fans – and we may deny it but I certainly remember hearing it at games. There’s also not many strikers who’d be dropped to the bench for big games- even when they’re on form and still not complain, simply doing the job asked of them when they get the chance to do it. Oh and did I mention the fact that the proud Bulgarian captain retired from international duties to focus on his United career?
There’s also Berbatov’s playing style to consider, the former CSKA Sofia, Bayer Leverkausen and Spurs man is hardly the most energetic fast-paced striker ever to lace his boots. Although Berbatov is actually faster than many believe and can often use his turn of pace to get on the end of balls, that’s not what his game’s about.
Watching Berbatov play you cannot help but get the sneaky suspicion he could carry on playing in his languid- how often is that word used to describe him?- style, until his late sixties, about the same age that Teddy Sheringham retired at.
If Berbatov buys Ryan Giggs’s latest fitness DVD and takes up yoga then he could well be playing for United by the time the banner at Old Trafford reaches 40 years since City’s last trophy win. The real reason I’d like to see Berbatov stay at United as long as humanly possible is the fact that whether he’s scoring goals or not, he’s an individual talent the likes of which Fergie does not have in reserve. Rooney, Chicharito, Welbeck and Macheda all have their talents and are great players but none of them are of a similar ilk to Berbatov.
Even if Berbatov was to become United’s third or even fourth choice striker, he’d still offer an option like no other and as the past has proven if needs be he’s willing to play a supporting role.
If Sir Alex was to try and sell Berbatov in the Summer, then United would be lucky to get back a third of the money they paid for him, while another year of his services would be worth arguably a lot more.
If Berbatov’s contract was to be allowed to run out then obviously United would get nothing, so what would be the harm in extending it? The figures being bandied about suggest anything from £100k to £120k a week, which is obviously not pennies, when you consider a yearly salary.
Fergie’s shown supreme confidence and patience with Berbatov when many were advocating his sale, now’s seems like the time for the United boss to show some reward for his leading scorers talent.
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