You’ll hear several different stories about what really happened on Saturday. Some say that Dimitar Berbatov considered himself mentally unfit to play; others say that it was the manager who dropped him from the match day squad due to his attitude and state-of-mind.
One thing is for sure, if Berbatov’s move to Manchester United does not go through this week then it is going to be a very interesting four months until the next transfer window in January 2009.
But what is the most likely scenario?
Most likely: Berbatov sold, Spurs get an inferior replacement
Man U have been playing brinkmanship with the Berbatov transfer all summer. Their initial bid of £20.5m was always a bit of a joke given that they are taking about one of the leading Premier League players of the last two years. Now that we’re down to the final few days and the rumours are running rampant that an agreement will be struck somewhere between the initial bid and the £30m that Spurs want, where the hell are Tottenham going to find a replacement?
With the protracted bid for Andrei Arshavin caught in a similar valuation stand-off and his fellow countryman Roman Pavlyuchenko thought to never be a serious target, Spurs are now sniffing around the likes of Diego Forlan (I doubt it) and Brazilian striker Radamel Falcao of River Plate.
But with memories of desperate, last minute moves for Danny Murphy, Andy Booth and Grzegorz Rasiak at the tail-end of previous transfer windows stinking out the joint, I fear the likes of David Nugent, Kevin Doyle or Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink might be wearing Spurs white next Monday.
Quite possible: Berbatov stays to play reserve football
The masochistic part of me wants to see this. If the move doesn’t happen and Berbatov remains at White Hart Lane for at least four more months, he’ll either have to apologise and knuckle down (unlikely) or train and play with the reserves. It’s not great business for Spurs to have a £25m striker in the reserves but at the same time they don’t exactly need the money.
While it would be fun to see Berbatov ostracised by the club given his prima donna attitude, the fact that the stories wouldn’t go away would make it counter-productive.
If United are, say, £5m short in their valuation then why doesn’t Berbatov just pay it himself? Perhaps he could take a cut in salary at United equivalent to the £5m over the term of his contract. You think he wouldn’t?
And they say it’s not about money…
Unlikely: Berbatov stays and becomes the team fulcrum
You know, the guy is revered at the club. I imagine he is treated like a king by management and admired by his team mates. He is well paid and could probably negotiate a deal to bring him up near what Man U would offer him. Spurs have brought in a successful manager, have done some wheeling and dealing in the summer and brought in players that they hope can push the team on.
But like so many of the modern breed of footballer he would prefer to be part of someone else’s glory than create his own. One of the main reasons football is in the state it is in is because just when the chasing pack start making progress, the Big Four Cartel simply lure their best players, unsettling them with stories planted in the press and making their positions at clubs untenable.
It was funny that just before Man United’s final, crucial game of the season with Wigan last season, stories hit the press about their interest in their young midfielders Valencia and Palacios. Everton becoming too much of a threat? Well let’s unsettle Mikel Arteta. Villa and Spurs causing you trouble? Let’s chase Barry and Keane.
Some players are worthy of playing for the BFC: Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard and Joe Cole have all gone on to achieve at that level. But then others are pointless: who thought Steve Sidwell would ever make a dent at Chelsea or that Jermaine Pennant or Yossi Benayoun were truly good enough to win the Premier League with Liverpool?
And while Berbatov is without a doubt good enough to be at the best team in the league, how about just once we saw some loyalty from a player under contract? Someone needs to start a movement, kick off the trend. No better man than a sulky Bulgarian.
+++ Tight Shorts +++
Yet another of Sven Goran Eriksson’s 2007 shopping spree is set to leave the City of Manchester Stadium as Nery Castillo has joined Real Betis. He follows Geovanni (Hull) and Rolando Bianchi (Torino) out of the club.
In what can be hardly described as an “upward move”, Anton Ferdinand is being lined up for an £8m transfer to Sunderland. Decent player on his day but needs some maturity to go along with the ability.
In a piece of news that perfectly sums up the desperate state of Italian football, Philippe Senderos is set to join AC Milan on loan from Arsenal. During their injury crisis last season Senderos was called upon to do a job against Liverpool in the Champions League and could be directly attributed blame for two goals against.
In an underwhelming piece of news, Everton have broken their 2008/9 signing duck by recruiting full-back Lars Christian Jacobsen on a free transfer. He is 28 and has played 16 times for the Danish national team.