AS Monaco FC manager Claudio Ranieri has hinted the club could sign Dimitar Berbatov to a permanent dean when the transfer window re-opens this summer.
Berbatov, 33, joined Monaco on loan from relegation-threatened Fulham, who are priced at 1/6 to finish in the bottom-three, on deadline day in January.
With star man Radamel Falcao sidelined for the rest of the season due to a knee injury, the former Bulgaria international, whose current contract at Craven Cottage is due to expire at the end of the season, has proven to good a good addition to Ranieri’s squad.
“I don’t know if he has become No.1 at Monaco but he is playing, scoring and getting assists,” said Ranieri.
“Some show more fighting spirit in challenges but he is working more than before.
“Free agent next summer? He is important to us and I believe he wants to stay but we will talk about that later.”
Berbatov, who has bagged four goals and two assists in nine appearances in all competitions for the Principality, is feeling settled in Monaco after initial murmurs of criticism following his arrival.
“I am not 20-years-old anymore but I still know how to play football,” the 33-year-old ace told L’Equipe. “People should not judge too quickly.
“When I joined the club I didn’t expect anything because I never played there. But my family is fine in Cote d’Azur, people are pleasant with me and helped me to adapt.
“I play with very good players and we are fighting for a Champions League position.
“It was the right choice. If I go on this way, we will sit around a table at the end of the season and we will see.”
With seven Ligue 1 matches remaining, Monaco (18-9-4) are six points clear of Lille OSC for the final automatic UEFA Champions League qualifying place.
Up next for Les Rouge et Blanc is a league clash against Nantes (10-7-14) on 6 April 2014.
Julio Cesar hints at Benfica move
Toronto FC goalkeeper Julio Cesar has confirmed his interest in joining Portuguese Primeira Liga side S.L. Benfica in the summer.
Cesar, formerly of Flamengo and Internazionale, joined Toronto on a season-long loan deal from Queens Park Rangers ahead of the 2014 MLS campaign.
“Benfica are a great club and it would be wonderful to play for a team with so much history,” he is quoted as telling Antena 1. “It’s a shame there was no agreement.
“Let’s see if next season we can talk again and reach an agreement,” said the Brazil international.
“We couldn’t last time because of the values, we couldn’t find a common denominator.”
Cesar is expected to be the No. 1 goalkeeper for the hosts at this summer’s World Cup finals in Brazil.