Dimitar Berbatov

Berbatov’s greatest Premier League hits

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Dimitar Berbatov announced his retirement on Thursday, closing out a two-decade professional career.

The Bulgarian striker never flashed much pace in the helter skelter Premier League. But it didn’t matter. Over his eight seasons in the Premier League, Berbatov may go down in history for the greatest technical player in the Premier League era. I mean, just look at this first touch!

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Look at how nonchalantly Berbatov brought down that 50-yard bomb from across the field, controlling it as if he was just juggling the ball three feet in the air to himself. That slow, methodical play was evident for Berbatov across his time with Tottenham, Manchester United and Fulham, but it didn’t matter, because he always ended up in the right place in the box to score, or he could pick out a pass to set up a teammate. He even had a few dribbling tricks.

Berbatov finished his Premier League career with 94 goals and 40 assists in 229 games. He joined Tottenham after a stellar five-year run with Bayer Leverkusen in 2006 and immediately became a fan favorite. In 2008, he made a then-Man United record transfer to Old Trafford for around a reported $38 million. After four seasons and 48 league goals, Berbatov moved to Fulham for another couple of years before heading back abroad.

During his time in England, Berbatov left crowds stunned with stupendous goals, flicks and tricks. Here’s a collection of some of his best highlights.

Dimitar Berbatov says he wants to play in the Premier League again

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Dimitar Berbatov, at 35 years old, says he isn’t done yet.

The former Manchester United striker who won the Premier League twice with the Red Devils told BBC 5 Live that he wants to come back to play in the English top flight.

“When you’ve played in the Premier League you don’t want to play anywhere else,” Berbatov said. “In this stage of my career I know where I am — I would happily play for a team where they use my experience and my knowledge. I can help young players develop and make the team stronger. In the end it’s all about helping the team play.”

Berbatov spent five seasons in the Bundesliga with Bayer Leverkusen before moving to England in 2006, first with Tottenham Hotspur for two seasons before a switch to Manchester United that netted 48 goals in 108 league appearances. He spent two more season in the Premier League with Fulham before heading overseas to play for Monaco and Greek side PAOK. He was released from Panathinaikos in June, leaving him without a club since the summer.

The Bulgarian international has made 78 appearances for his country, scoring 48 times, but has been retired from international play since 2010.

Burnley, Middlesbrough, Hull City, Swansea City, and Sunderland have all failed to score double-digit goals thus far in league play. However, some of those clubs, such as Middlesbrough and Swansea, already have new purchases up front and likely would pass on someone of Berbatov’s abilities.

The 35-year-old was known for his unique style of play which featured brilliant flashes of skill and technique that punctuated long stretches of seemingly nonchalant strolls around the pitch. He was often branded as “lazy” although many disputed that negative label.

“Interview with Dimitar Berbatov, conducted by journalist Dimitar Berbatov”

Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images
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Oh man. Dimitar Berbatov is ready to add a Pulitzer Prize to his trophy case.

The former Manchester United and Spurs striker sometimes called “The Incredible Sulk” has taken to his Facebook page after picking up a red card for PAOK against rivals AEK Athens over the weekend.

[ VIDEO: USMNT duo Zardes, Parker talk youth-heavy camp ]

Berbatov, 34, was tossed for throwing an elbow in the box, giving him his first red card in 14 years. The big Bulgarian had come on as a substitute, and has drawn much criticism for his brief appearance.

So he granted an exclusive interview to himself in which he lashed out at “stupid” journalism regarding his passion for the game.

Interview with Dimitar Berbatov, conducted by journalist Dimitar Berbatov..JDB: Hi, How are you feeling..DB: Hi. I am…

Posted by Dimitar Berbatov on Tuesday, January 26, 2016

DB vs. JDB. Hard-hitting questions from JDB. Like this one:

JDB: Some media says you don’t want to play for PAOK any more?
DB: This is why i am giving interview to you, and not to people who are coming up with stupid things like this..This is not true, and with this kind of talks some people are trying to harm the team.

Dimitar, lay off Journalist Dimitar. He’s just doing his job, man.

Ex-Manchester United striker Berbatov spurned Aston Villa for Greek club

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34-year-old striker Dimitar Berbatov, a free agent after being released from his Monaco contract this summer, has signed for Greek club PAOK Thessaloniki.

Multiple reports across England suggested that Aston Villa was heavily pursuing the former Manchester United, Tottenham, and Fulham striker, even flying him into Birmingham on Deadline Day and sending former Villa player and Bulgarian international Stylian Petrov to pick him up, but the two parties never came close to agreeing to personal terms.

Instead, Berbatov chose a club that has finished top three in the Greek top flight four times in the past six seasons, but has not won a league title since 1985. PAOK did not release details of the contract, but according to Transfermarkt, Berbatov signed a one-year contract.

Berbatov has proven to be productive despite his age, scoring seven times in 26 Ligue 1 appearances last season with Monaco, although he faded down the stretch, scoring just twice after Christmas in 14 appearances, managing just three full 90 minutes over that span.

PAOK will unveil Berbatov to Toumba Stadium on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Aston Villa had a very quiet Deadline Day, signing just a pair of central defenders in Jolean Lescott and Liverpool loanee Tiago Ilori. The club did most of its business prior to the final day of the window, nabbing French forward Jordan Ayew and Barcelona winger Adama Traore among others.

Bargain Bucket – A look at best free transfers & loans available from Adnan to Yedlin

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While the world is focused on nine-figure megawatt transfers and the big-name clubs competing for them, several out-of-contract players and loan possibilities could help teams firm up their chances at everything from a Top 4 spot to Premier League safety.

So who are these names, and how much of a risk would they be?

[ MORE: Tuesday’s transfer rumor roundup ]

Joey Barton — The former QPR and Newcastle man is 32-years-old and has a combustible personality, but is certainly not among the top reasons the R’s were relegated last season. Could fill in the gaps as a minute-eater or final quarter substitute that adds a bit of steel to the side.

DeAndre Yedlin — Those in the know say the USMNT youngster is in high demand as a potential right wing on loan from Tottenham. Will he stay in England?

Ron Vlaar — The Villa man is out until the new year with a knee injury, but could see himself as anything from a lynchpin for a lower club’s defense to a depth move for old boss Louis van Gaal. His health will be a situation to monitor over the Fall months.

Dimitar Berbatov —  Fancy taking a chance on ‘The Incredible Sulk?’ The 34-year-old Bulgarian scored nine goals in 38 matches for AS Monaco last season, seven coming in Ligue 1 play.

Jonas Gutierrez — Certainly a ways off from his days as a plug-and-play midfielder for Newcastle, but the Argentine is a boon to any locker room and can give a lift to any midfield. Can play defender in a pinch, but does seem headed back to South America.

source: Getty Images
(Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Adnan Januzaj (right) —  For a guy many have tipped for a surefire loan away from Old Trafford, the young Belgian has looked stronger, quicker and more confident this young season under Louis van Gaal… and more importantly he’s been on the pitch, too.

Wilson Palacios — Has the experience in English football if he’s willing to play an ancillary role. Otherwise, it’ll be off to the Championship if he wants to stay in England.

Yoan Gourcuff — Once a hot-button transfer target from Lyon, he has not signed for another club since his contract expired. At age 29, did he wait too long to come to England? Was linked with Arsenal earlier this window.

Michu —  Remember when he lit the Premier League on fire for a brief time with Swansea City? Well Garry Monk doesn’t want him around any more. Perhaps a loan move will do?

Also available for “free”: Oguchi Onyewu, Shola Ameobi, Cristian Ledesma, Carlton Cole.