AC Milan and Dimitar Berbatov, is it a match made in heaven?
Both AC Milan and Dimitar Berbatov are in difficult predicaments, AC Milan following an arduous season in which they failed to retain their Scudetto have admitted they are in a difficult financial position and have cited this as the reason for selling their two prized assets Thiago Silva and the enigmatic Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Paris Saint-Germain for a combined fee of €65m. Dimitar Berbatov on the other hand following a difficult season at Old Trafford where he struggled to break into the first team on a consistent basis has found himself the subject of very few transfer offers and despite it being confirmed he was to leave Manchester United this summer he has still travelled with the club to South Africa as part of the pre season tour for last term’s Premier League runners up. With AC Milan looking for a striker to replace Zlatan and Dimitar Berbatov looking for a club where he would play on a regular basis at a high level it seems almost logical for the two parties to come to an agreement.
AC Milan president upon confirming the sale of Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva to PSG stated that in sanctioning this blockbuster transfer he had saved the Milanese club “€150m in two years” With Milan seemingly needing to cut back spending on wages, a move for Berbatov would be entirely viable with the Bulgarian forward at thirty one years of age unlikely to command a contract with significantly high wages. Added to this Dimitar Berbatov’s contractual situation would also play into AC Milan’s hands with Berbatov only having a year remaining on his c0ntract any transfer fee agreed with Manchester United would unlikely break the €10m mark. Sir Alex Ferguson’s desire to move the player on would also be a factor in the transfer fee with the experienced manager much more likely to accept an offer that may well be below the players market value to simply offload the player. This move would appease the currently disgruntled Rossoneri supporters who have publicly declared their anger and the sale of arguably their two most important players. Berbatov would be essentially a like for like replacement for Zlatan Ibrahimovic with the former Bayer Leverkusen forward’s game replicating Ibrahimovic’s in more ways than one for example the nonchalant on field attitude as well the fantastic technical ability with both player’s first touch and close control being among the finest in World football. Signing Berbatov would undoubtedly be a short term measure for Milan with the Bulgarian being brought in to appease the fans, keep the side ticking over with goals and technical play and it would not be a dramatic change for the current players, they would not have to adapt their own style of play significantly in order to suit Berbatov due to the similarity in the way both he and Zlatan play. Having Berbatov in the squad would be essentially a stop gap measure whilst Milan scour the transfer market for a younger, long term replacement for Zlatan whom may be of a completely different style to the Swedish captain, however unsettling the squad further by signing a completely different type of forward at this point would be a potentially disastrous move from Galliani and co.
AC Milan currently boast a forward line that is as much unreliable as it is explosive with Robinho, Antonio Cassano and Alexandre Pato all capable of leading a Scudetto charge for Milan but often inconsistent and ineffective in the important fixtures. Robinho seemed heavily reliant on Ibrahimovic to play well and give him something to feed off in order for him to impress for Milan and with Ibrahimovic now gone it now puts increasing pressure on Robinho whom throughout his career has illustrated a distinct lack of confidence and ability to deliver when faced with high pressure situations. Antonio Cassano having put the bad boy image of his youth behind him is AC Milan’s ‘Mr Consistent’ in attack however the former Sampdoria man following his health issues of the past twelve month is unlikely to be able to finish the full ninety minutes in most games adding to the need for a greater strength in depth in attack. Finally Alexandre Pato, the young superstar signed from Internacional of Brazil in 2007 was dubbed the future of AC Milan but fitness issues have hindered the Brazilians career in the fashion capital of Europe with his time at Milan being very much a stop-start affair. The potential signing of Dimitar Berbatov would reduce the pressure on the aforementioned forwards and with Massimiliano Allegri preferring to use just two attackers in his 4-3-1-2 formation there would indeed be competition for places that would undoubtedly improve performances from forwards trying to cement a position in AC Milan’s starting line up.
With Berbatov at the age of thirty one it would certainly be a low risk transfer for AC Milan who would not be spending astronomical amounts of money (which they could not afford) on wages and would not be losing a huge amount of money on a transfer fee. Should Berbatov flop at Milan then it will not have cost Milan much off the field with Galliani preferring to take time in finding the right long term purchase to lead Milan’s forward line. Rumours of interest in Arsenal’s want away striker Robin Van Persie from Milan are seemingly way off the mark with Milan being forced to part with a significant transfer fee and offer very high wages to secure the Dutchman’s signature with many posing the question ‘If Milan were willing to and indeed could afford to spend that much money to secure the signature of Van Persie, then why would they have sold Zlatan Ibrahimovic who would have been earning a similarly high wage?’ AC Milan CEO Adriano Galliani has also moved forward to appease Milan supporters by stating that AC Milan will replace Zlatan with “a champion” and this is a category that Dimitar Berbatov fits into with the Bulgarian a more than household name throughout Europe having won multiple Premier League titles in England with Manchester United.
Dimitar Berbatov’s agent has quickly moved to respond to the rumoured AC Milan interest in Berbatov by claiming his client would “run to AC Milan” and this has added further fuel to the fire of speculation that Berbatov will join the Rossoneri, this again pointing to the fact that the deal would in fact be positive for all parties concerned. AC Milan have also reportedly registered their interest in FC Porto’s Brazilian central defender Rolando who would be a like for like replacement for Thiago Silva whilst costing a lot less in both wages and transfer fee. Should AC Milan complete the signings of Rolando and Berbatov it could be said that they had potentially pulled of a tremendous bit of business with the Milanese club saving considerable amounts of money on the unpaid wages to both Thiago Silva and Ibrahimovic, added to the extraordinarily large amount of money recouped through the sales of their stars. With Rolando and Berbatov being more than qualified replacements coming at a much lower cost there is now room for AC Milan to manoeuvre in the transfer market with them having the capital behind them to pull off a major transfer in a couple of seasons time when they need to rejuvenate the squad yet again and with Dimitar Berbatov at the age of thirty one it would not at all be a surprise if after a two year contract in Milan, Galliani looks to bring in a big name striker in the summer of 2014.
Whilst this transfer is in its entirety still speculation there is a considerable case to argue that Berbatov and AC Milan would be the perfect match with both satisfying each other’s short term needs, Berbatov needing a new club and Milan needing a short term, not too dissimilar replacement for Ibrahimovic. The financial benefits for AC Milan are clear as I have pointed out above and the potential positives on the field are clear to see with Berbatov having not lost any of the qualities that saw him merit the £30.75m transfer to Manchester United. Manchester United themselves would be keen to see the deal go through with them wanting to move on a player who is now no longer integral to their plans, and United after a summer of little interest in Berbatov which has sparked off rumours that he may well yet stay at Old Trafford, would entertain any bids for the striker with Galliani seeing the potential for a bargain purchase which given AC Milan’s current financial predicament would be a huge boost. AC Milan may well have to act swiftly in order to get their man with Turkish giants Galatasaray registering their interest in Berbatov however I feel that should Berbatov be given a direct choice of Galatasaray and Turkish football or the rich in history AC Milan and Italian football then there would only be one outcome every single time.
Written by Chris Winterburn