MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 26: Dimitar Berbatov of Manchester United scores his team's fifth goal, from a penalty, to complete his hat trick during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Wigan Athletic at Old Trafford on December 26, 2011 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
It's that time of the year again when the transfer speculation comes in hot and heavy -- and often in a laughable manner. According to a report by Sky Sports, Manchester United striker Dimitar Berbatov may be looking for a move to German side Bayer Leverkusen -- a place where he spent five seasons prior to his move to Tottenham Hotspur in 2006. I actually don't doubt this desire when considering context. Berbatov's contract expires at season's end but United have the option to extend his contract by a year. This option by United is likely to be exercised if not for the simple reason that it would give them more bargaining power over any potential transfer.
As many are aware by now, Berbatov was the Golden Boot winner last season in the English Premier League but he still found himself overtaken in the pecking order by Javier Hernandez (Chicharito) for the run-in. Few expected the prolific striker to return to Old Trafford after he was omitted from the bench for United's UEFA Champions League final in May versus FC Barcelona -- an occurrence that was anticipated to be a final blow for his time at the club. However, the Bulgarian returned to the club this season without any public complaint* while falling further down the pecking order -- he is very much 4th choice at the moment behind Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck, and Chicharito
* Whether this is because of a calculated move or simply because of his class, kudos to Berba for not pulling a Carlos Tevez in regards to this whole matter.
Unless United feel the necessity to raise funds for a January transfer -- due to a combination of the speculated financial constraints from the Glazer ownership and the need in midfield -- it still seems likely that United hold onto the talented striker. United are a side that still uses a two-striker system often and despite Berbatov being 4th-choice, that situation isn't as dire as it seems for a side that uses a lone striker. Injuries have ravaged United this season and perhaps that would make manager Sir Alex Ferguson hesitant to deal Berbatov. Even Welbeck and Chicharito have missed significant portions of this season due to injury -- and this even forgets the injury-prone Michael Owen. It would be hard to fault Berba if he wanted to depart but from a selfish point of view, I hope United extend his contract and that he at least stays until season's end. His four goals this week was a great showcase of the abundance of class that he still possesses.