Transfer sagas that have run throughout the season finally get concluded and vast amounts of money change hands between Europe’s top clubs.
So far we have David De Gea, Phil Jones and Ashley Young as our summer signings, with more possibly to follow. Arsenal are finally making some moves in the market and the long running Fabregas / Barcelona saga looks set to finally be resolved. City are trying to buy anyone and everyone with the Sheik’s billions and Chelsea now have Villas Boas at the helm. Falcao’s potential arrival looks set to cause the departure of the ageing Drogba. Whether this will bare fruit, especially with £50 million signing Torres firing blanks in front of goal, remains to be seen but all major contenders on the domestic front are making moves this summer.
However, we spend so much time talking about new players we tend to overlook the future of some of our existing players.
After Hernandez being the shock of the season with his goal tally and general form, not to mention forging our best strike partnership with Wayne Rooney, where will Berbatov fit in or will he even be here?
It seems clear to say that Hernandez and Rooney are the desired choice up top, leaving Berba, Owen, Welbeck and Marcheda on the bench – if they even make the squad. The preferred formation of 4-4-2 leaves little room for another striker in the starting eleven. With Young and potentially Nasri brought in to bolster the attacking presence from midfield this means that playing three strikers together would be a highly unlikely move by Fergie.
Ideally we will be competing in all the major competitions until the end. This would mean having a heavy fixture schedule thus rotation would be the name of the game. But how happy would Berba be on the bench with the role of a ‘super sub?’ For a player who moved for a hefty transfer fee of £30.75 million from Spurs, and who finished joint top premier league goal scorer this season, it is doubtful that this would be his ideal scenario.
Whilst Berba can point to his goal tally when arguing why he should have a place in the first team, it cannot be forgotten that both Hernandez and Rooney have scored vital goals in key games. Hernandez seemed to enjoy playing against Chelsea, scoring vital goals on more than one occasion last season and also became the first player since Van Nistelrooy to score 20 goals for the club in his first season.
Yet Berba’s goals haven’t exactly come during ‘six pointer’ games – with five against Blackburn Rovers and three against now relegated Birmingham. Whilst these are obviously still important goals, the fact is he fails to score in big games when the other two strikers do.
Being omitted from the squad for the Champions League final was a huge blow for the player, and although in the wake of this he professed his desire to remain at the club, there has been sounding out over a possible move from both top clubs in Europe such as Bayern Munich and also by the player’s agent.
First team football is something that Berbatov expects and requires, and as a player that is not getting any younger, he feels these are his most prolific years and that they should not be wasted on the bench – no matter how big the wage packet or how fancy the heated the seats on the bench may be.
Should Berba chose to leave this would obviously provide a problem and he would need to be replaced.
The fact of the matter is Owen cannot be considered anything close to ‘world class’ any more, with Hernandez still a youngster we have to take into account he could suffer from second season syndrome in the Premier League. Not to mention the potential injuries and dips in form that will inevitably occur over the course of a long hard season.
Our strikers are vital and let’s face it goals win games, good form in front of goal offers strikers the chance to easily win over both fans and management thus forcing his way into the first eleven.
Berba would do best to stay put and fight for his place in the first team, with the majority of fans believing that keeping him at the club is a wise move for United. The player himself seems to be making the right noises, saying
“I will fight for the 20th title. If I were an easy quitter, I would never have made it this far. Everything at Manchester United starts from scratch for me on July 4.”
The desire seems to be for him to remain at Old Trafford, and whilst he wants to stay at the club and fight for a place, there is no reason not to allow this with the transfer kitty being put to use elsewhere.
Given the chance, Berbatov could make a key contribution next season and who knows may continue to fulfil the potential he showed during his time at Spurs.