Dimitar Berbaflop To Be Sold As United Gear Up To Rebuild Flagging Squad?
Dimitar Berbatov, Luis Nani, Luis Anderson, Nemanja Vidic, and Michael Carrick could head a sensational clear-out of Manchester United as Alex Ferguson wields the axe on some of his under-performing stars at the end of the season.
After 18 months of inconsistent and indifferent performances, Dimitar Berbatov looks to be on top of Fergie's list as United gear up for a summer clear-out.
The reason for the clearout is two-fold , on one side it will see the club look to reduce its increasing wage bill, while on the other it will see Fergie remove the dead wood from his squad.
While the Red Devils may still reside in second place in the English Premier League, and are in the semifinals of the League Cup, and are in the knockout stages of the Champions League, their form has been below what is expected of a Manchester United team.
Over the past six months the United boss has come to believe that his squad is short of his required standard, and has now signalled for the first time that he is planning a mass overhaul.
In 2005 Ferguson sold or moved on 16 players as he rebuilt his squad for the Champions League assault, it paid dividends in 2008. Last season United was well beaten by Barcelona in Rome as the Spanish giants easily brushed United aside.
Many players were given a second chance but after a misfiring first half of the season it appears that Ferguson has drawn a line in the sand for many of his supposed stars.
Back in 2005, United only received £40m for the 16 players who left the club, this time around they will be looking to receive substantially more than that figure the Glazers (team owners) deal will an increasing debt.
The 2008 season was United's most successful season of all time, Champions League winners, Premier League winners, and beaten semifinalists in the FA Cup, and yet their debt in that single still rose above the prize money the club brought in, hence the sale of Cristiano Ronaldo for a world record £80m and the refusal to re-sign Carlos Tevez.
The following season United won the league yet again, the League Cup, and were beaten finalists in the Champions League.
Ferguson will probably move for David Villa or go back for Karim Benzema who has yet to make the break through at Real Madrid, but either bid would have to be financed part of the way by the sale of United's biggest flop.
At £31.75m, Dimitar Berbatov has scored just 20 goals in 66 appearances for United and has struggled with the expectancy of playing for such a prestigious club. While some players, like Wayne Rooney, have thrived under the added pressure, Berbatov has been a shadow of the player who was allowed to play his own game at Tottenham.
After the Leeds defeat, which seems to be the straw that broke the camels back for Fergie, the riot act was read to many players, but Berbatov was singled out for particularly failing to shine over the course of the last year.
A United insider said: “The four midfield players got a lot of criticism after the Leeds game, but the biggest under-performer was Berbatov.
“People say he’s got a great touch, and that isn’t in doubt, but this game is also about hunger and work rate.
“To put it bluntly, Berbatov doesn’t run around enough for this United team – and it hasn’t gone unnoticed by the people that matter most.”
Nani is also on the way out the door at Old Trafford, having come in in 2007 for £17m, the Portuguese has done little to impress and has gone backwards since Cristiano Ronaldo left for Real Madrid after leaving the winger with a clear run at a permanent place in the team.
United has already offered Nani more than £14m for Benfica's winger De Maria, but the offer was shot down as it was considered "not enough" by the Portuguese giants.
Anderson was substituted after impersonating a footballer and failing to make an impact against Leeds, and is another who is under severe pressure after United paid Porto £18m for his services in 2007, also.
The Brazilian international feels he has not been given enough chances to impress in his favorite position as an attacking midfielder.
He said: “If I said I’m not disappointed in things I’d be lying.
“Of course I’m disappointed because a player of my ability, who is used to playing at attacking role and scoring goals like I did at Porto, then it makes me sad.
“I have only scored one goal for the club, but I can’t be dispirited.
“My first goal has to be to get back to the condition I was in at Porto and to get a run of games like I did there.
“Then I want to start scoring goals and deciding games because that’s important for my career.”
The word on the street in Manchester is that Anderson has used up all of his lives with Fergie and that the Scot wants to move him on as soon as possible. Earlier this year, Ferguson called the Brazilian to task over his fondness for the nightlife in Manchester amongst the growing Brazilian population.
Soon after, Anderson's form improved but he has been very poor this year, and also appears to be a player who is missing the off-field influence of Ronaldo.
Outside the club, Nani, Anderson, and Ronaldo were all friends who frequented each others company on a regular basis.
In midfield, Michael Carrick's poor form and Owen Hargreaves injury problems are also problems that Ferguson has to contend with, while Darron Gibson is showing little of the potential he has promised over the last couple of years.
Only Darren Fletcher has reached the heights expected of him, and it now says much of United's problems that the Scot is easily its best midfielder and a player the first team cannot do without.
One player who is a surprise on Ferguson's list is Nemanja Vidic. Last season, prior to the Champions League final, he appeared to have his head turned by Barcelona after a move to Spain was offered to the Serbian.
However, following many conversations with Ferguson, Vidic decided to redouble his efforts and stay with United.
His form has been hampered by injury this season, but when available he has been well below par, causing many to question the Serbian's future. His cause has not been aided by the continued absence of Rio Ferdinand.
The English international has missed most of the season through a back injury, but Ferguson also has major worries about the celebrity lifestyle he leads off the pitch.
Following Vidic's withdrawal from the Leeds game through injury, Ferguson was said to be furious with his defender.
The Serbian has been chased by Real Madrid and Barcelona, who are looking to take advantage of Manchester United's reluctancy to double Vidic's wages to £100,000 per week.
It would seem that this move has been driven by the boardroom as such a rise would increase United's wage bill by £2.5m a year before bonuses, and the name of the game in the current climate is to reduce the annual wage spend.
With the player nearing 30 and looking to secure his long term future, it may seem a wise move by Ferguson to allow him to move to Spain now as they could command at least £20m to £25m for his signature.
Elsewhere, United also looks to be on the verge of losing Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Edwin van der Sar, and Gary Neville, as the four player are all near retirement age.
So when it is all added together it looks like next summer could be a very busy one for the Old Trafford club.
They have four important players on the verge of retirement, a striker who is misfiring, a couple of midfielders who are not improving, and a duo of defenders who look to have played their last season together.
And with the club struggling with their growing debt and looking to refinance it in any way possible, it could be a very busy transfer window at Old Trafford.