Berbatov linked to Paris Saint-Germain move with Ferguson flush for replacements

Rumours linking Manchester United forward Dimitar Berbatov with a move to big-spending Paris Saint-Germain have resurfaced, after originally appearing when the Bulgarian was left out of the squad for the Champions League final defeat to Barcelona in May. A fee between £18m and £20m has been mooted for the player who, despite finishing as the club’s top scorer during last season’s Premier League title-winning campaign, has yet to be offered a new contract despite only 12 months remaining on his current deal.

Somewhat conflicting stances have emerged from within United. Chief Executive David Gill originally denied reports that United had considered selling Berbatov, adding that the club held an option to extend the player’s contract by another year at any time, so the striker in effect had two years left on his existing contract. Sir Alex Ferguson, however, was quoted in the Guardian as having admitted to a French journalist that he could “absolutely” see Berbatov playing for PSG, short of confirmation that the former Tottenham Hotspur player is available for transfer but at odds with the emphatic words of denial from Gill.

United, although active in the transfer market this summer with the purchases of David de Gea, Phil Jones and Ashley Young, have not signed a striker, but do have a number of promising young players who could shoulder some of the burden should Berbatov depart. As well as the established likes of Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernandez and Michael Owen, Ferguson can call on Danny Welbeck, who impressed on loan at Sunderland last year, Federico Macheda, on the score sheet during United’s tour of the United States, and Mame Biram Diouf, the powerful striker loaned last season to Blackburn Rovers, to name but a handful. None of the three can match Berbatov’s elegance but each is a rising star ready to fulfil their potential and capable of backing up United’s first-choice forwards. The abundance of options – with former Villa winger Young also capable of playing as a forward – and Berbatov’s age, 31 next January, could help persuade Ferguson to cash in on Berbatov while he can.

PSG – cash-rich after a takeover from the Qatar Investment Authority – have already lavished money of the likes of Blaise Matuidi, Kevin Gameiro and Javier Pastore, the latter from under the noses of Chelsea, and have been mentioned in connection with Berbatov since he was excluded from the Champions League final squad in May. Berbatov himself has been quoted as saying that only “maybe Barcelona” is a logical next step from Manchester United, but if he is told he can leave Old Trafford, PSG’s oil money could see them added to the list. The chance to help restore the capital club to their 1990s heyday, when they won Ligue 1, the Coup de France, the Coupe de la Ligue, the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup and finished as runners-up to Ajax in the Champions League could also be a challenge as exciting as helping United to a 20th title and enough to convince Berbatov to take his insouciance to France.

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