Dimitar Berbatov has been heavily linked with moves away from Old Trafford in the last week and The Sun has revealed that the Manchester United striker could be set to join AC Milan in a swap deal involving Klaas-Jan Huntelaar in the summer.
Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani has acknowledged that Huntelaar could depart the San Siro in the summer, saying:
“When Klaas was at Real Madrid, he had the chance to go to England, Germany or Italy, and he chose Milan. But England could be a future solution.”
I personally cannot see this swap deal happening. Berbatov may not have lived up to expectations at Old Trafford but unless the swap involves Valencia’s David Villa, it hasn’t got a chance of happening.
Here’s why: Huntelaar hasn’t exactly set the world alight since leaving Ajax and this season for AC Milan, he has only scored 7 goals in 22 games, starting only 9 of them. Even though Pato has been injured for parts of the season, Huntelaar still hasn’t started many games, as Marco Borriello has been leading the line for the Rossoneri this season, scoring twice as many goals as Huntelaar (14 goals in 26 games).
Age is on Huntelaar’s side as he’s only 26, but the fact that he’s only been a success in Holland with Ajax doesn’t bode well for the striker. Just because a striker is prolific in Holland doesn’t mean they will cut it in England – Afonso Alves and Mateja Kezman are prime examples as they were flops at Middlesborough and Chelsea respectively. The fact that Huntelaar was poor in the Champions League tie with AC Milan can’t have helped his case either.
Berbatov’s goal tally this season has been criticised, but he has scored 12 goals in the Premiership this season, 5 more than Huntelaar has at AC Milan. Berba has been criticised for being lazy at United, but that’s just his style of play. And playing next to Wayne Rooney makes anyone’s work rate look bad, as the England striker is known for his energy and constant running all over the pitch. Berbatov’s exquisite first touch and excellent finishing skills make him a world class player on his day and he has that aura of unpredictability that keeps opponents guessing as to what he will do next.
The main problem for Berbatov is United’s formation, as it is built around Wayne Rooney. This is understandable, as Rooney has been United’s best player by far this season, scoring 36 goals for the club this campaign. Berbatov is best when he is playing as a second striker and isn’t as effective when he is leading the line, as he likes to drop deep, have the ball at his feet so he can create that bit of magic. Rooney has done well at leading the line this season, but that is as the sole striker in a 4-5-1 formation and Berbatov has been on the bench for these games.
Berbatov hasn’t lived up to expectations at Old Trafford, there is no doubt about that. But play him in his preferred position as a second striker and with a bit of confidence and a run of games, Berba can start delivering for United week in, week out. To do that, United need an out and out striker, which they haven’t had since they sold Ruud van Nistelrooy, whether that be Macheda next season or a new signing. Only then we will see Berbatov at his best; with Rooney and another in a three-pronged attack next season. If he fails to deliver next season for United, then by all means sell him, but don’t swap him for Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.