Saturday 17 March 2018

Fergie 'no' to Berbatov Juve switch

Mark Ogden

Alex Ferguson will resist attempts by Juventus to lure Dimitar Berbatov from Manchester United in January, but the Bulgarian's Old Trafford future will come under scrutiny at the end of the season, with his contract due to expire in June 2012.

Berbatov, United's £30.75m record signing, was omitted from the squad for the 2-0 victory against Wigan at the weekend. Ferguson, who named the inexperienced Italian striker Federico Macheda and Frenchman Gabriel Obertan in his forward line instead, admitted that his decision was not based on injury or a desire to rest the 29-year-old.

Ferguson is expected to restore Berbatov to his squad for tomorrow's Champions League clash at Rangers. But the former Tottenham striker is likely to start on the bench against the Scottish champions, with Ferguson having confirmed that Wayne Rooney will make his first United start since September 26.

Despite Berbatov's early-season form -- when he scored six league goals before mid-September -- evaporating in recent weeks, Ferguson has no desire to offload the player in January.

Berbatov's omission at the weekend followed a run of nine games without a goal.

His performances have mirrored his goal drought, with recent displays against Manchester City and Aston Villa particularly uninspiring.

But while doubts over Berbatov's long-term future at United continue to grow, Ferguson is prepared to wait until the end of the season before deciding whether he merits a new contract to replace his existing £90,000-a-week deal, or if his time at Old Trafford is up.

The difficulties in attracting a replacement in January would leave United exposed to a striker shortage should Rooney suffer injury or further loss of form.

Although Javier Hernandez has impressed with seven goals in his first season at the club, concerns over Michael Owen's ability to overcome his injuries and the rawness of Macheda have ensured that Berbatov will not be allowed to leave in January.

Juventus are likely to renew their interest in the summer if they fail to sign Edin Dzeko from Wolfsburg and an offer in the region of £10m would prove tempting for United with the clock ticking on Berbatov's contract.

Fenerbahce have expressed an interest in Berbatov, and Bayern Munich explored a move for the former Bayer Leverkusen forward at the end of last season.

But having scored just 33 goals in 101 games since arriving from Tottenham in September 2008, Berbatov is likely to find his future out of his hands if he fails to improve his strike rate between now and May. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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