Dimitar Berbatov can still be a European star

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In summer 2008 Bulgarian striker Dimitar Berbatov signed for Manchester United in a deal which - at a hefty £30.75 million - remains the club transfer record for the Red Devils. 

Since then his career has proved difficult to categorise - not quite a success, but by no means a failure.

In his final season with Tottenham, Berbatov scored 23 goals in 59 appearances, including a penalty in the League Cup final win over Chelsea. 

This form sparked a three-way transfer battle between Manchester City, Manchester United and Real Madrid for the signature of the Bulgarian - with Man Utd sealing the deal on deadline day, September 1, 2008. 

But while Berbatov picked up Premier League and Champions League medals in his first season with the Red Devils, he was criticised by some for a perceived 'lazy' style of play. 

Sir Alex Ferguson, a famed exponent of hard work and discipline, never seemed to trust Berbatov, which became apparent when Berbatov was dropped midway through the 2010/11 season despite being the league's top scorer. 

After losing way to Javier Hernandez, Berbatov never regained the position of first-choice striker, and was even omitted from the Champions League final squad. 

Thus it came as no surprise that Berbatov left for greener pastures in summer 2012 - what was a surprise was the destination and cost. 

Berbatov attracted the attention of Juventus and Fiorentina, even flying to Italy to try to seal a deal. 

In the end though, he popped up in a very unlikely destination - Craven Cottage - home of Fulham. At nearly £5 million the Cottagers secured one of the bargains of the season, and were rewarded with 15 goals at a ratio of 0.45 goals a game. 

Ordinarily this sort of return within a team that seemed to stop playing in February would be attracting wild rumours in the silly season, but there have been none. 

In my opinion, Berbatov's great talent would see him fit in very well at an aspiring Champions League club, and would improve the attack of Tottenham, Liverpool, Everton, and numerous other top European clubs. 

It is therefore strange that no club has made inquiries about the striker.

Perhaps it is the Bulgarian's perceived lack of effort or advancing age, or, more likely Berbatov's own mindset. 

While he thrived in the relatively pressure-free environment of Tottenham, where he was the star of the team, he seemed to dislike the competitiveness of a Manchester Utd team containing the likes of Wayne Rooney, Carlos Tevez and Cristiano Ronaldo. 

Now at Fulham, Berbatov seems to be enjoying his football once more - because the expectations are lowered and the team is built around him. 

It will be intriguing to see how he can perform next season, and I, for one, think that the Premier League would be a lot poorer without Berbatov's beguiling mix of elegant control and languid skill, achieved with the 'apparent effortlessness of gods'. 


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