By Greg Stobart | Northern Correspondent
Manchester United will extend Dimitar Berbatov’s contract in the next 48 hours - and could offer the striker a return to Tottenham in the summer in a part-exchange move for Luka Modric.
The Bulgarian’s current deal expires at the end of the season but United will trigger a unilateral option this week to extend his contract by a further year to prevent the player from leaving on a free transfer in the summer.
Sir Alex Ferguson has admitted last week that Berbatov is likely to leave Old Trafford at the end of the season after falling behind Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez in the pecking order.
United believe Berbatov will command £6-8 million in the summer and may try to use the 31-year-old as a makeweight in their attempts to sign top target Luka Modric.
Tottenham will demand at least £40m for the playmaker, which is beyond United’s reach, but there are suggestions within Old Trafford that Berbatov could be included in a bid for the Croat.
It is still unclear whether Tottenham would be interested in re-signing Berbatov but United are hopeful of signing long-term target Modric, who is stalling over signing a new contract at White Hart Lane.
Berbatov, who joined United from Spurs in a £30.75m deal in 2008, is believed to be frustrated by United’s decision to trigger a clause to extend his contract, the deadline for which expires this week.
"Berbatov is still almost certain to leave the club in the summer, with his contract extension being used simply as a means for United to recoup some of their initial outlay"
Berbatov, the top scorer in the Premier League last season, has been linked with a return to Leverkusen and was the subject of interest from wealthy French side Paris Saint-Germain earlier this season.
He has spoken of a “sad” and “painful” season missing out on first-team football having made just 10 Premier League appearances this season, failing to make the 18-man matchday squad in the last two matches.
Ferguson accepts Berbatov’s desire to play and will not stand in his way in the summer.
“His concern is not getting first-team football," said Ferguson last week. "At 31, he is looking at first-team football.
"It is difficult for me to guarantee that, so it could lead to him looking elsewhere.
"We will be taking up the option on his contract but, having had chats with him, I understand he wants to get first-team football.
"It is something we need to consider at the end of the season. For a player of his age and his ability, it is disappointing for him that he is not getting first-team football.
"We will look at the end of the season but until then, he remains at United."