Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Berbatov to bid goodbye to Spurs

Tottenham star Dimitar Berbatov looks set to play his last game for the club against Liverpool at White Hart Lane on Sunday in what promises to be a farewell fixture for a number of players on both sides.

The Bulgaria striker is expected to be the most high-profile departure from Spurs after manger Juande Ramos admitted that he may be powerless to prevent his prize asset seeking Champions League football at a bigger club.

“It's difficult to say whether it will be his last game. I would obviously like him to stay here but we don't know how future negotiations will go, so it's something I can't guarantee,” the Spanish coach said.

“I've spoken to him many times and I know exactly what he wants. But it is a private conversation and I won't say what he told me.”

Ramos is expected to make wholesale changes to the squad in the close season with Pascal Chimbonda, Ricardo Rocha, Young-Pyo Lee, Teemu Tainio, Radek Cerny and Younes Kaboul all knowing that Sunday's game could be their last in the white of Spurs.

The former Valencia boss took charge after the chaotic end to Martin Jol's reign in October, and led the club to League Cup victory and UEFA Cup qualification, but is now keen to bring in his own players as part of ambitious plans for next season.

The Spaniard signalled his intentions with the 15-million-pound capture of 22-year-old Croatian playmaker Luka Modric from Dinamo Zagreb last week and he has also been linked with big money bids for Barcelona's Samuel Eto'o, Portsmouth's Lassana Diarra and West Ham's Anton Ferdinand.

England goalkeeper Paul Robinson is also expected to move in the summer but is unlikely to be fit for Sunday's game due to an ankle injury, denying him the chance of a last appearance in-front of his home supporters.

Opponents Liverpool have had a similarly dramatic season on and off the pitch but will be in a relaxed mood for Sunday's game after securing Champions League qualification last month.

Manager Rafael Benitez and American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett had high hopes of a title challenge at the beginning of the season but after a largely disappointing campaign will be refreshing their squad ready for a more sustained attempt next year.

Players who could be appearing in their last game for the Reds on Sunday include John Arne Riise, Jermaine Pennant, Steve Finnan and Andriy Voronin.

The Spanish coach has already made a bid for Aston Villa's Gareth Barry, fuelling rumours that midfielder Xavi Alonso could also be saying goodbye on Sunday.

However, Benitez scoffed at the reports, saying: “(Alonso) is our player, he has a contract. Barry can play in three different positions, so I don't think we need to worry about this.”

England forward Peter Crouch could also be making his 'Pool swansong against Spurs, the club who gave him his first professional contract, after publicly stating he wants to leave to seek first-team football.

Again, the Spanish boss played down suggestions. He said: “If we receive a very good offer — and by that I mean 15 million pounds — we will consider it. I'm happy to keep him.”

Sunday's fixture could also be the Reds' last under the ownership of Gillett and Hicks following their acrimonious falling out earlier in the season.

Supporters of the famous club are banking on a takeover offer from Dubai based consortium DIC over the summer to provide the stability needed for improvement.

Liverpool are guaranteed a fourth place finish, whatever Sunday's result, while Spurs can still finish in the top ten if they win and West Ham slip up against Aston Villa.


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