Would selling Berbatov in January help Fulham’s relegation fight?
Reports that Dimitar Berbatov is requesting to leave Fulham in the January transfer window may be met with more dejection than delight among supporters, but arguments can certainly be made as to why this could be a positive in their battle with relegation.
Berbatov’s odds are 3/1 to leave Fulham in January and he has been linked with two extremely different options of late – being Lionel Messi’s understudy at Barcelona or joining Turkish Europa League club Trabzonspor.
New Fulham manager Rene Meulensteen has quickly indicated that a squad overhaul is necessary in January and although he was chiefly referring to the need to bring in some new faces, shipping out some of the existing players would help cut the wage bill and create squad space.
Berbatov will certainly be one of the highest earners on the club’s books and given that he is out of contract in the summer, alongside providing little on-pitch contribution, selling him may prove a benefit to boosting Fulham’s identity.
The Bulgarian has only scored one Premier League goal in 12 appearances this season and created a further 10 chances for teammates. This is far from a great return for a player that spearheads the attack.
Berbatov has predominantly been the plan A for Fulham, with the majority of attacks going through him. However, this approach can make Fulham quite one dimensional.
Meanwhile, it is no secret that Berbatov is one of the lazier strikers in the Premier League from a defensive standpoint, with workrate not one of the biggest strengths of his game.
In a period where Fulham need to be battling for every point, selecting luxury players or those that are not fully behind the cause is unlikely to spark a reverse in fortunes. These are both groups where Berbatov arguably fits.
Berbatov is 25/1 to sign for Barcelona in January and 1/5 to remain at Fulham. His agent did previously say in the summer that the 32-year-old would see out his contract at Craven Cottage.
If Meulensteen decides to leave out Berbatov, there is clearly no shortage of other attacking talent on the books of Fulham.
Darren Bent is a proven Premier League goalscorer and he dug Aston Villa out of a similar relegation hole when moving to the Midlands from Sunderland in 2011.
Getting sufficient service to him is the key and pairing Bent with Bryan Ruiz may prove the best partnership. Ruiz has created more scoring chances than any other Fulham player this season in the Premier League, despite starting just seven games and completing 90 minutes just three times.
Fulham’s odds are now odds-on to be relegated at 5/6 and this is no surprise after five successive league defeats and six losses in a row in all competitions.
The last time Fulham lost six top-flight games in succession was in early 2002.