Many have (repeatedly) anticipated that Arsenal's title challenge this season would collapse once Olivier Giroud got injured, and now, it's finally happened—not the collapse, but the Frenchman's injury. It's not long-term by any means, but when Nicklas Bendtner is the backup striker, people will still retain their doubts.
Which is a bit unfair towards the big Dane as he has already scored two crucial winners for Arsenal this season despite being a bit-part player—like in yesterday's 2-0 win against Cardiff City. However, Bendtner's luck couldn't have been worse as he injured himself after scoring, and he could be out for weeks with a sprained ankle, reports BBC Sport.
It's all but guaranteed now that Arsene Wenger will be going in the transfer market looking for striking reinforcements. And one rumor which has been doing the rounds, as reported in the Sun (h/t ESPN), is that the Gunners are targeting Fulham's Dimitar Berbatov in a £2 million deal.
The Bulgarian reportedly wants out of Craven Cottage, and Fulham boss Rene Muelensteen says he won't stand in his way during the January transfer window if he wants to leave, as reported in early December by the Daily Mail's David Kent. The former Manchester United star will turn 33 later this month, but he can still be a handful for many defenses.
Heavily underused by Sir Alex Ferguson in his last few months at Old Trafford, Berbatov went on to score 15 league goals in 33 games last season for Fulham—including two against Arsenal at the Emirates—eventually helping them finish 12th.
Regarded by many as lazy, Berbatov is still immensely talented and can finish if given the opportunity. Courtesy of ESPN, last season he scored 15 goals from 83 shots—in comparison, Giroud has scored eight league goals from 63 shots this season so far.
Adding to this, the Fulham striker is experienced, knows what it takes to win a Premier League title and wouldn't be cup-tied for the Champions League. With his contract running out this summer, a potential short-term deal would be a low-risk move which could pay dividends at the end of the season.
Wenger is also a fan and nearly signed him as he recalls back in 2008, when he told the Daily Mail, "He is what I call a top class striker because he can provide, he can score, he can be at the start of the move and at the end of it. That is a sign of quality."
And, while this season has been a far cry from last season, Berbatov is playing in an ageing Fulham team with no confidence or belief. A change of scene along with better teammates would definitely help his cause.
There could be better alternatives out there. Especially short-term ones like Miroslav Klose, but that doesn't mean Berbatov wouldn't represent a good solution, either. And as Arsenal fans are well accustomed to saying: "Class is Permanent."
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