Dimitar Berbatov: 7 Reasons Manchester United Are Right to Keep Him
Berbatov is the club's record-signing, having arrived from Tottenham Hotspur in September 2008 for a fee of £30.75 million. With such a high fee came high expectations. Some supporters still believe Berbatov to be a disappointment, and it has been widely suggested that this should be his final season at Old Trafford.
However, the Bulgarian striker still has plenty to offer, and United are right to hold on to last season's top scorer. Although he is significantly less involved this season, each member of the squad has an important role to play, and Berbatov is no exception.
These seven attributes of Berbatov's game and character are exactly why United are right to keep him at Old Trafford.
Michael Regan/Getty Images
Manchester United certainly have quality in depth in the attack considering a player as talented as Dimitar Berbatov is regarded as the fourth-choice striker.
Despite topping the goalscoring charts last season, Berbatov finds himself behind Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez this campaign. You would be hard-pressed to find such a wealth of striking options at any club in the world.
United go into each new campaign with the ambition of winning all four major honors, but you can only compete across so many competitions if you have adequate quality in depth. Berbatov is more than just adequate.
Rooney, Welbeck and Hernandez cannot feasibly play every game, and Berbatov is a brilliant player to come in when they need a rest. Arguably his role should be far more significant than that of a squad player, but he's maintained a positive attitude and performed when called upon.
Supporters could not ask for a better fourth-choice striker than Berbatov.
Clive Rose/Getty Images
Dimitar Berbatov was relegated to fourth-choice striker this season after topping Manchester United's goalscoring charts last campaign, yet he's demonstrated amazing class through it all.
Many believe Berbatov was unfairly treated after being left off the bench for the 2011 Champions League Final, and while that may be the case, he has remained the consummate professional. Even though he may not be playing as often as he'd like, he continues to work hard and perform when called upon. That is the example that senior players should be setting at the club.
In a day and age when teenage footballers demand massive contracts before even making an impact on the first team, it is refreshing to see a player like Berbatov remain professional and just carry on with his job even when he does not get the number of games a player of his quality deserves.
When building a squad, more than just ability is needed. The manager must seek the correct balance of intangibles as well, and the professionalism and class that Berbatov has shown can only be a positive influence in the dressing room.
Dimitar Berbatov's 20 Premier League goals from the 2010/11 season.
Dimitar Berbatov was Manchester United's top goalscorer last season with 20 goals in the Premier League, and there is no reason he won't continue to produce the goods at Old Trafford.
This season he has showed few signs of slowing down in the goals department. Berbatov already has nine goals in 19 appearances for the club, which is a pretty impressive return for any striker, especially one who hasn't been presented with a good run of games.
Since joining United, his goalscoring record is actually quite good, with 56 goals in 147 appearances.
The greatest concern is consistency. Last season Berbatov scored 20 goals in the Premier League, but 11 of those goals came in just three games. Between his hat-trick against Liverpool and his five-goal performance against Blackburn was a two-month goal drought.
Nevertheless, he does have a knack for scoring, and quite a few have been important. His late winner against Bolton last season was crucial in the title race, and it came at a time when he was being phased out in favor of Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez.
You need a player who can come into the team to score important goals. Berbatov can do that. He's already done it this season after being brought into the team for games against Fulham, Wigan and Blackburn in December. After long periods on the bench, Berbatov came in and scored six goals in those three games.
Strikers are in the team to score goals. It really is as simple as that, and Berbatov can certainly put the ball in the back of the net.
Dimitar Berbatov's assist to Cristiano Ronaldo against West Ham in the 2008/09 season.
Dimitar Berbatov scores the goals you expect from a striker, but he also contributes a lot more in the Manchester United team.
Along with scoring the goals, Berbatov also creates them for his teammates. Since joining United in September 2008, he has contributed 23 assists. It goes without saying that it is brilliant when a striker can contribute this to the squad on top of goals.
Many supporters have voiced concerns about the lack of quality in midfield, and when they are struggling to create opportunities, you need that attacking production from elsewhere. Berbatov has provided that.
In the game against Ajax at Old Trafford, the midfield struggled most of the match. It is worth noting that for United's only goal, Berbatov dropped back into midfield and put Javier Hernandez in on goal with a killer pass through the heart of the Ajax defense. It was a magnificent ball to setup his teammate, and this what he continues to offer.
Although, that will never surpass his move against West Ham to provide the assist to Cristiano Ronaldo in the 2008-09 season. It appeared Berbatov was going to be trapped along the byline, only for him to produce a marvelous piece of skill to beat the defender and play a brilliant pass for Ronaldo to tap in. It is fair to say few others could have accomplished that piece of genius.
Dimitar Berbatov's backheel goal against Fulham in December 2011.
Manchester United supporters value stylish attacking football, and Dimitar Berbatov is one of the best in the business for providing that.
Throughout his time at Old Trafford, there have been a number of occasions when Berbatov left supporters with their jaws dropped questioning how he pulled that off. His cheeky backheel against Fulham was the most recent example of his undeniable flair. His overhead kick against Liverpool last season was one of the more memorable.
Of course, there is also the aforementioned assist to Cristiano Ronaldo against West Ham in the 2008-09 season which require a bit of ingenuity and flair.
Berbatov almost seems like a magician at times with what he can accomplish on the ball. He plays the game so elegantly.
It may not always be the most effective option, but it is exhilarating to watch.
Sir Matt Busby made attractive, attacking football part of the club's DNA, and it is now a tradition carried on by Sir Alex Ferguson. This is something that supporters have come to expect from the club, and Berbatov is a player that continues to fulfill those expectations and carries on the tradition of beautiful football set forth by Busby.
Clint Hughes/Getty Images
Dimitar Berbatov has years of experience winning titles at Manchester United, and we have seen this season just how valuable experience truly is.
United started the season with a fairly inexperienced squad, having lost Paul Scholes, Edwin van der Sar, John O'Shea, Wes Brown and Gary Neville from the previous season. It is exciting to see the energy the youth brought to the squad, but they lacked the correct mentality, and the experience of veteran players could only be beneficial.
Scholes returned and the squad showed vast signs of improvement. Much of that has to do with his skill, but some of it is also the experience he brings to the dressing room and the knowledge he can impart on the younger players.
Berbatov, now into his 30s, should be looked to as one of the elder players for the youngsters to learn from. While Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez are both ahead of him in the pecking order, he still offers a great deal of experience that could advance their development. He is a truly gifted player and has much to teach.
As previously mentioned, his class and attitude would also be beneficial to the squad, passing it down to young players. There has been a shift recently with young players developing inflated egos, many growing frustrated with limited opportunities when they believe they are good enough.
These kids could learn a lot from a player like Berbatov who doesn't cause a fuss when he doesn't play, but rather gets stuck in during training and tries to actually earn his spot.
Berbatov has been involved in some of United's big triumphs in modern history, and passing down his experience as a winner could prove to be an invaluable influence on the younger members of the squad.
Michael Regan/Getty Images
At the end of the day, if Dimitar Berbatov leaves Manchester United, he will need to be replaced, and that may well prove costly.
Sir Alex Ferguson has repeatedly insisted that there is no value in the market when it comes to transfers. Bringing Paul Scholes back from retirement was an example of value. He secured a top midfielder for no fee on what was probably a fair wage.
Securing Berbatov for another season would be another example of value. He is an excellent striker, and despite being frustrating at times, he does contribute a lot to the squad. If he is allowed to move on, then the club's record signing leaves on a free and United are left needing to invest in a new player.
Michael Owen will probably be released when his deal expires as injuries continue to plague him, while Federico Macheda is struggling to make an impact on loan at Queens Park Rangers. Will Keane possess the potential to be a good striker, but is not yet ready for the Premier League.
No one in the current squad could fill the void left by Berbatov, and replacing him likely requires a sizable fee.
It would be hard to find a player content with filling the squad player role left by Berbatov, which seems realistic given how hard it would be for most strikers to move ahead of Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez in the pecking order.
Holding on to Berbatov for another season, and possibly a few more, gives Macheda and Keane more time to potentially develop into first team players. It's hard to argue with the value of holding on to an experienced, quality striker and then having a ready-made replacement already at the club.