Dimitar Berbatov’s honest assessment of Manchester United’s transfer window
Dimitar Berbatov has delivered his verdict on Manchester United’s difficult transfer window and the areas in which he believes the Reds have left themselves short.
The former United striker identified defensive midfield as one position that ought to have been strengthened over the summer, with the transfer deadline set to pass with just three incomings at Old Trafford.
Daniel James, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire are the only players Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been able to sign, while Romelu Lukaku was the main high-profile departure as he joined Inter Milan.
And Berbatov said he thought United should have signed an extra player following Lukaku’s departure, in an exclusive interview with MEN Sport, although he explained why he has sympathy with the Belgian striker.
“I thought United needed one more signing, especially after Romelu Lukaku left for Inter Milan,” the Betfair ambassador said. “But teams should never panic buy and should only ever buy players they have been targeting.
“I’m sorry to see Lukaku leave. He’s been unfairly criticised by the media and fans.
“I understand why he wants to leave. We’re all human beings and it’s no fun to finish a game and read on social media or the in the press that you suck. You try your best in training and on the pitch but, in the end, if it isn’t working out, you say: ‘Ok, I’ll try somewhere else.’ Some players get more credit than others.
“Lukaku only played two seasons at United. My best season at the club was my third when I scored the hat-trick against Liverpool and went on to win the Golden Boot in the title winning side of 2010-11.
Asked where United should have reinvested the Lukaku money, Berbatov was clear. He believes Paul Pogba needed a midfield partner, as United were unable to replace Ander Herrera, who was released at the end of last season. The Reds’ pursuit of Sean Longstaff proved fruitless due to Newcastle’s £50million valuation of the midfield player.
“They needed a holding midfielder who could give Paul Pogba the freedom to create the spark for this team,” Berbatov added.
“Pogba needs to know there’s someone behind him who he can rely on. That way Pogba is free to go off and make assists.”
Maguire proved to be United’s biggest signing, albeit the pursuit of the Leicester man was a long and drawn out process, with the Reds eventually making the 26-year-old the world’s most expensive defender.
And Berbatov believes Maguire will be under pressure to repay United’s faith in him.
He added: “The transfer market has gone crazy and I bet if you asked the players they’d say they’d rather teams didn’t spend so much money on them. A big transfer fee brings pressure. I know that from when I made my move from Tottenham to United.
“When you pay £80m for a defender, fans expect him to be able to defend on his own and transform the defence immediately. That’s not fair.
“But Maguire is a great signing. He will bring football intelligence, calmness on the ball, interceptions, the ability to bring the ball out, feed the midfield and even the attack. The ability to read the game is so important and Maguire is excellent at that.”