Four reasons why Dimitar Berbatov would be welcome in Premier League
After taking a photo with Wayne Rooney, Dimitar Berbatov is reportedly training with Manchester United in order to get himself back to full fitness. But will that mean the Bulgaria striker will be trying to earn himself a contract in the Premier League? Here are four reasons why the 35-year-old would be welcome back in the English top flight.
A touch of class
Technique is something in short supply in England. When you find a player whose touch is so superb that it's worth the entry money in itself, you want to keep hold of them. Dennis Bergkamp, Robin van Persie, Gianfranco Zola, Berbatov and now Zlatan Ibrahimovic are some of the finest players to have graced the Premier League with the ball at their feet. Who wouldn't want to see Berbatov kill another long ball stone dead with the side of his foot? Or perfectly caress a volley into the net?
You may lose pace, stamina and motivation as you get older, but touch is something that never deserts a top player. One more magical moment from the former Tottenham, Man United and Fulham star would be worth the price of admission alone.
A real striker
In an age of strikers who are expected to be the first line of defence, Berbatov would be a welcome throwback to a time when strikers were only expected to score goals. At 35, there would be no sign of tracking back, no breathless gegenpressing which would tire him out by the 20th minute and, as a result, whichever team he joins might benefit from having a man whose only focus is to score goals.
Football is quick to judge a player who looks like he isn't trying very hard. Ibrahimovic, Mesut Ozil and others have all suffered the ire of the fans when they are gently trotting back to help out their teammates.
During his time in the Premier League, Berbatov made it clear through his body language and on-pitch persona that he was only interested in one thing: goals. These days, players are expected to do everything, so it might be nice to see a striker with only goal-scoring on his mind.
The dream of Zlatan and Berba up front
Manchester United don't really need another striker: they have Ibrahimovic, Rooney, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford who can all play up front. But there's something very exciting about potentially seeing two old masters on the pitch together at the same time.
It's often been joked about, especially when they were both playing in Ligue 1 with PSG and Monaco respectively, but Ibrahimovic and Berbatov could make one of the classiest (yet laziest) strikeforces ever to be seen.
While he may be training with his old club, Berbatov is unlikely to earn himself another chance to play at Old Trafford but just imagine what the squad's youngsters are learning from him and Zlatan in training. Not the art of tracking back, but how to use their body to shield away from your opponents, training methods to ensure you look as if the ball is attached to your foot by a piece of string and, of course, how to scowl at your opponent.
A personality back in the Premier League
In December 2012, Berbatov scored for Fulham against Southampton and took his jersey off to reveal a t-shirt with the words: "Keep calm and pass me the ball." Arrogant? Perhaps. But it was the kind of thing that made him one of the most interesting players in the league -- and something you could have imagined the legendary Eric Cantona doing back in the 90s.
Berbatov smokes, takes yoga classes, draws incredible pictures and very much does what he wants to do. He is his own man. While football will never be short of personalities, there are few who feel they can express themselves in the modern game quite like Berbatov did. He may not be to everyone's tastes but the Bulgarian would bring some star quality back to England, wherever he ends up.
Jon is a senior editor of ESPN FC, based in London.