The 30 year-old Bulgarian striker and Premier League top scorer is unhappy at being offered a rolling one year extension at Old Trafford rather than a new two year deal
By Wayne Veysey | Chief Correspondent
Dimitar Berbatov’s contract talks with Manchester United have broken down and the Premier League’s leading scorer could be heading out of Old Trafford this summer.
Berbatov was told the club were ready to hand him a two-year extension to his current deal, which runs out in in June 2012, during initial negotiations just before Christmas and was confident of putting pen to paper before the end of the season.
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United are prepared to hike his wages from £80,000-a-week to around £120,000-a-week as reward for his role in propelling the club to a six-point lead in the Premier League table.
However, there has been no indication from the Old Trafford hierarchy over the last six weeks that a longer contract will be on offer.
Berbatov, who did not travel with the squad to Gelsenkirchen for Tuesday night’s semi-final first leg against Schalke because of a groin injury, is unhappy that he has been relegated down the United pecking order in that time despite heading the Premier League scoring charts with 21 goals.
“The combination of Berbatov turning 30 [in January] and the rise of Javier Hernandez has changed things,” a source told Goal.com.
“Hernandez was not expected to perform as well as he has and the return of Wayne Rooney to top form has also weakened Berbatov’s case for a longer contract.”
It now seems increasingly likely that the former Tottenham striker will leave Old Trafford at the end of the season following an often difficult three-year spell at the club.
Berba off? | United's top scorer could leave Old Trafford after contract talks break down
Despite his age, he will not be short of suitors, although United will want to recoup at least half of the club record £30.75 million fee they paid Spurs for the player in August 2008. Sir Alex Ferguson will then turn his attention to securing a younger replacement for the Bulgarian.
Although talks have reached a stalemate with Berbatov, United are confident they can soon tie Hernandez to an improved five-year deal following his brilliant debut campaign.
The club’s hierarchy have been working tirelessly behind the scenes in recent months to protect themselves from predators by extending the contracts of key players.
Hernandez is set to follow in the footsteps of Patrice Evra, Darren Fletcher, Michael Carrick and Ryan Giggs, who have all signed new deals in recent months. Paul Scholes has still not decided whether to accept the club’s offer of a one-year contract extension.