Too good to be on the periphery at Old Trafford

What next for Dimitar Berbatov, who has struggled for playing time in recent months.

On September 1st 2008 Dimitar Berbatov signed for Manchester United in a £30.75 million pound deal from Tottenham Hotspur. Berbatov had been a revelation at White Hart Lane and much more of the same was expected following his move to United.

Yet, let’s face facts, Berbatov did not exactly set the world alight at Old Trafford. However, he hardly marked himself out as a poor signing either, the Bulgarian forward tended to be brilliant one week, anonymous the next.

Yet, when Carlos Tevez and Cristiano Ronaldo left United for pastures new, no one expected Berbatov to leave, the player had at least done enough to endear himself to the United faithful.

In Berbatov’s first two seasons at Old Trafford the striker managed 26 goals in 86 games, by no means prolific, yet when you consider the role Berbatov performs in bringing other player’s into play, it was hardly a poor return.

Following the World Cup last year, United bolstered their attacking options with the addition of the highly rated Mexican forward, Javier Hernandez. Hernandez would prove to be a revelation, scoring numerous crucial goals as United regained the Premier League title from Chelsea.

At the end of the season, Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez were undoubtedly Sir Alex Ferguson’s first choice striking partnership and Berbatov was dealt a significant blow when he was left out of United’s 18 for the Champions League final in May.

Yet, there is a certain irony in the fact that last season was Berbatov’s most prolific in a United shirt, the striker finishing with 21 goals in 42 games, 20 of which came in just 32 league games making him the league’s top scorer.

Berbatov has been criticised at points for his languid style, which many take as laziness.

Yet, some might say the Bulgarian is merely a technically and tactically adept footballer who understands that physical exertion is not required for every minute of the 90 to make an impact.

So, despite no obvious downturn in form, last season’s Premier League top scorer looks to now be deemed surplus to requirements at Manchester United.

Berbatov would not be the first player to suffer the indignity of being shipped out of Old Trafford following a successful season. Ruud Van Nistelrooy left Old Trafford for Real Madrid despite 21 goals in 35 games in his final season, and David Beckham was still at the top of his game when he also left for Madrid following an alleged bust up with Sir Alex Ferguson.

This season Berbatov has yet to start for Manchester United in the league and with the emergence of Danny Welbeck the Bulgarian is clearly 4th choice striker. For a player who is undoubtedly one of the most talented in the league, surely Berbatov cannot continue to bide his time on the United bench for much longer?

The striker has started just once in the league this year and his days at Old Trafford look numbered, with Sir Alex Ferguson looking to build another side founded on youth with the summer additions of Ashley Young, Phil Jones and David De Gea and the return to the club of Danny Welbeck and Tom Cleverley.

Both Galatasaray and Valencia have been linked with Berbatov, and surely now a move abroad is just what the striker needs to resurrect his career, as there is no doubt the forward has every ability to make an impact wherever he plays.

What do you think Dimitar Berbatov should do next? Comment and follow me on Twitter @CamHumphries