AC Milan Transfer Rumors: Berbatov to Replace Ibrahimovic at Milan?

Jason VossFeatured ColumnistJuly 18, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 07:  Dimitar Berbatov of Manchester United reacts during the FA Community Shield match sponsored by McDonald's between Manchester City and Manchester United at Wembley Stadium on August 7, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Ian Walton/Getty Images

After a deal with French side Paris Saint-Germain was finalized earlier today, Zlatan Ibrahimovic's departure means AC Milan will have yet another area to address this transfer window.

There is no doubting the big Swede's impact at Milan. He scored 42 goals in 61 appearances for the Rossoneri, including 28 goals in 32 appearances this past season. His reputation as one of the world's best earned him a fair amount of suitors, including the likes of Manchester City, before Milan completed a 25 million euro move sending the forward to the Parc des Princes.

After the departure of Ibrahimovic, Milan is left with essentially four forward options. They include the oft-injured yet incredibly talented Alexandre Pato, teen prodigy Stephan El Shaarawy, the gifted yet inconsistent Robinho and Serie A's most mercurial forward, Antonio Cassano.

Pato has been linked with a move away from Milan for some time now, but rumors have quelled recently. The Brazilian looks set to stay at the San Siro for at least the foreseeable future.

Robinho was said to be a target for former club Santos. The Brazilian club seemed keen to bring him back in a deal that could have possibly sent highly-rated goalkeeper Rafael Cabral to Milan. Milan have since taken Robinho off the market after the Brazilian declared that he wanted to remain with the club.

Just today, Antonio Cassano was said to be a target for Italian side Genoa. He has been unhappy over the sales of Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva. Milan seem fine with allowing the forward to leave due to his high wages and lingering heart issues, which he received treatment for last season before rebounding to have a solid Euro 2012.

One major plus about the forward's possible departure is that a certain Mattia Destro, arguably Italy's most sought after player, may be part of the package that Milan receive for Cassano.

With respect to El Shaarawy, he seems to be the only Milan forward not linked with a move away from the San Siro, yet he seemed less than pleased that his performances last season have not seen the ownership reward him with a pay raise.

So, all in all, Milan's forward situation is a mess.

Immediately after club owner Silvio Berlusconi announced the impending sale of Ibrahimovic, Milan were linked with two of Manchester City's plethora of striking options: Edin Dzeko and Carlos Tevez.

Dzeko was a target of the Rossoneri before moving to Manchester City in 2011, and Tevez has been linked to Milan ever since he declared his dissatisfaction with his life in Manchester. The proposition of one of those strikers joining Milan would certainly go a long way in helping ease the void left by Ibrahimovic, his ponytail and his sublime skill.

That is, until Man City boss Roberto Mancini stated that both strikers will remain at the City of Manchester Stadium.

It now seems as though the Milan brass have switched to the red side of Manchester for their next transfer target, after the agent of Dimitar Berbatov revealed a potential five million pound move.

It was only four years ago that Berbatov moved to Old Trafford from Tottenham Hotspur for a fee of 30 million pounds. 30 million pounds is a whole lot of money for a player that can't seem to get any playing time just a few seasons after his big money move.

This past season, in five starts as well as seven substitution appearances in the English Premier League, Berbatov scored seven times. He's scored 48 times in 77 caps for the Bulgarian national team before retiring in 2010 and netted another 48 times in 108 appearances for Manchester United since 2008.

Berbatov may not have seen much time recently, but there is no doubting his quality. He's one of the smoothest finishers in the game and converts almost as much as Fernando Torres doesn't. He's an adept passer, a surprisingly proficient dribbler, links up well with teammates and holds the ball up very well, something Milan will desperately need after the sale of Ibrahimovic.

The only real downside of Berbatov is his age and his tendency to get called offside. Berbatov is now 31, but class is permanent, and the Bulgarian is clinical in front of net.

With the recent injection of funds from the Ibrahimovic and Silva sales, Milan find themselves with the financial capacity to push through a move such as this one. Berbatov has to be desperate for some first team football and Milan could provide him some.

In my opinion, he would be an easy choice in the starting XI and has the ability to terrorize Serie A defenses for the next couple seasons. Should Milan complete the move for Berbatov, they could have yet again found themselves the bargain of the transfer window, as Galliani so shrewdly did with Antonio Nocerino last summer.


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