ISL 2017: Dimitar Berbatov will not play as a striker for Kerala Blasters, and here's why
What's the story?
Kerala Blasters' highest-profile signing this summer, Dimitar Berbatov, has revealed he will not play as a striker for his new team in the Indian Super League next season.
On the sidelines of him receiving a Sports Management diploma from Bulgaria's National Sports Academy, the 36-year-old was quoted as saying by Bulgarian news agency Novinite: "I will continue to play soccer in India and I want to justify the expectations of all people. I can not even see myself as a striker, I'm going to be a midfielder, show the young guys, wait for interviews, in my time there I'm going to popularize football."
In case you didn't know...
Berbatov joined the Blasters last month after weeks of negotiations that also involved the intervention of club co-owner Sachin Tendulkar among others. The Bulgarian legend last played competitively for Greek outfit PAOK in 2016.
The heart of the matter
A former Premier League Golden Boot winner, Berbatov's statement will come as a big surprise to those who wanted to see his goalscoring exploits in Indian football. At 36, Berbatov has accepted his fate as not being striker material and hence, will use his considerable vision and guile to set up goals for his teammates from midfield.
Berbatov's new management diploma is the clearest suggestion yet about the player's next career move. The former Manchester United striker talked up the prospect of learning from one of the best in new Blasters head coach Rene Meulensteen, and it seems he is fairly clear about his priorities.
However, becoming a manager isn't the limit of his ambitions, with his eyes also set on higher positions.
"I can be a manager with this diploma. Can I be at the head of the Bulgarian Football Union? Yes, I can do it, but I can be a minister, too, I have to aim high, but everything will come within its due time, and next year I will be 37, so I have to think about the future. My diploma will help me if I decide to manage," Berbatov added.
The 2017-18 ISL season kick starts on 17th November and with Berbatov in their ranks, Kerala Blasters are the favourites to reach their third final in four seasons.
Berbatov has always been seen to possess a playmaker's vision and Meulensteen also used him as a number 10 during the duo's time at Fulham. Whether that reduce the Blasters' attacking threat remains to be seen, but the club have enough explosive goalscorers - CK Vineeth and Iain Hume to name btwo - to not worry about Berbatov playing a withdrawn role.