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Name Dimitar Berbatov
Gender Male
Ethnic Bulgarian
Job Bulgarian Footballer
Desc A player whose brilliance was defined by an artisanal elegance and the complete elimination of any superfluous movement. Struggled in his first few games for Tottenham before finding his rhythm, eventually moving to Manchester United for a club-record fee. Won two league titles before departing for Fulham. Arguably the most misunderstood player in Premier League history, and among the more underrate

Affiliation

Org Bulgaria National Team
Club as Player Kerala Blasters
  Fulham FC
  Manchester United
  Tottenham Hotspur

2016 01 30 Retrieve

[PAOK forward Dimitar Berbatov with himself after receiving a straight red card in a Greek League match]

(Journalist Dimitar Berbatov): And you are disappointed because of this?

(Dimitar Berbatov): Yes. When I don’t play, I can’t be happy. The problem is that, in this case I took it out on the colleague from the other team. And I am not one of this players looking for a conflict, this is a well-known fact, but in this case the opposite happened, for which I am sorry

2016 11 05 Retrieve

[Dimitar Berbatov hints at a return to the Premier League] When you’ve played in the Premier League you don’t want to play anywhere else. In this stage of my career I know where I am – I would happily play for a team where they use my experience and my knowledge. I can help young players develop and make the team stronger. In the end it’s all about helping the team play

2017 01 14 Retrieve

[Dimitar Berbatov describes his partnership with Robbie Keane] He was a great guy, running like crazy and we complemented each other because he was running everywhere and I was running in my head and we gelled together

2017 10 28 Retrieve

[Dimitar Berbatov speaks about his time with Spurs and his lack of desire for the spotlight] Spurs fans liked me. When I heard them singing my name I thought: ‘What the f—? Why are they singing for me?’ I didn’t like that attention. Some players do, but I was embarrassed and thinking: ‘Please, please shut up’

2017 12 23 Retrieve

[Kerala Blasters forward Dimitar Berbatov talks football in India] This is my role here. To teach the young players who have a good potential to grow. The only thing they need is someone to guide them in the right direction. One thing is to play in your country but if you go outside you get out of your comfort zone. Hopefully one day, young Indian players here can go to Europe. If you want to test yourself, you want to play against the best. It is the fourth year for this league now. It is so early, you can only grow from here. It is going to be a long road. As long as you try to do the right thing, everything will be fine. It will be good to see someone from India play in a big club in Europe

2018 08 23 Retrieve

[Berbatov channels his inner Cantona with criticism of Mourinho ‘seagulls’ at Man Utd. The former United striker told Betfair in the wake of a 3-2 reversal at Brighton] United’s season will not be defined by one defeat in mid-August. Come on, it’s the second game of the season! Every team can lose at any time and every team will lose again this season. The point is to take the lessons from the loss and not repeat those mistakes. It’s as simple as that. Manchester United have unbelievable players in their squad and they can absolutely put this right. Sometimes against the underdog you can lose because they want it more. It happens to every team. I do wonder if all this negativity is necessary but obviously football is a business, and a little bit of politics. You have people causing trouble, spreading ‘fake news’, rumours and it all gets repeated and becomes truth. But this is kids’ stuff and it doesn’t help anyone

2018 07 25 Retrieve

[When Berbatov flew into Manchester to speak to City officials, United boss Sir Alex Ferguson was at the airport to pick him up, much to the player’s surprise. United then got their man for a price lower than City had offered] I am flattered that he [Ferguson] gave me so much of his time. He personally came to pick me up at the airport. It was a shock to me, but it was a pleasure to get to know him

2019 10 12 Retrieve

[Dimitar Berbatov gives his thoughts on Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi] Ronaldo versus Messi, how can you separate them? I think they should get their awards and give it to both of them. All the time. You can’t say this one is better than the other

2019 11 20 Retrieve

[Dimitar Berbatov says Jose Mourinho’s proven track record of winning trophies means he will instantly command the respect of the Tottenham players] With his resume and the amount of trophies he has won in the Champions League, Premier League and wherever he goes, he has earned the right to take no sh*t. If you show him respect he will give you respect back, and he deserves that because he has proven himself by winning so much. The players will want to show him how they can play and they will be thinking that they need to prove themselves to him. He will bring new ideas, a new way of playing, new exercises in training and the players will need to show themselves, all of them.

In every club you have that player hierarchy, you know that you are good, maybe you are the captain of the team and you know you are going to play, but at the same time that doesn’t give you the right to just lay back and play off your name, you need to work hard and this will be the case with Mourinho. This new appointment, like every time a new manager comes in, will bring new life to the team, it will shake things up and people will wake up a bit and start proving themselves. The Spurs players should be excited because they are going to play for one of the best managers in the world and it is a great opportunity for them.

Mourinho has had a good rest, he was watching teams playing, commentating, he will have drawn lessons and conclusions from his last job at Man Utd and now it’s a fresh start for him. He’s taking over a great team with great players and he’s in London, the city that he loves, so for me, I think it’s the perfect match. Spurs is a team that wants to grow, develop and achieve things and I think it’s a good place for him.

By appointing him, the board were probably thinking ‘wherever he goes he brings trophies’ and Spurs need a trophy, we talk about it all the time. He has the experience and he can bring them a trophy to feel that victory, and develop that winning mentality and get used to it. He’s won so much already in his career and it will be interesting to see if he has mellowed. I remember Sir Alex Ferguson telling us about how he mellowed later in his career and took more time to think about things and not reacting so impulsively, so it will be interesting to see if Mourinho does something similar at Spurs

[Berbatov says he was surprised when he heard the news of Pochettino’s sacking on Tuesday evening] It came as a big surprise to me, I wasn’t expecting that, I don’t think anyone did. They had their problems at Spurs but to do it now seems strange to me. For me he was the perfect guy for the club, but obviously after a while, a time comes when you need a change because you get used to things, you reach your potential and you plateau. When that happens, you need to find a change and yes, they have probably reached that plateau as a team and it was not beneficial for both sides so they have parted ways, but I regret that they have taken this decision.

After six years, the guy has built the club, brought through the players, reached the Champions League final and overall everyone has been full of praise for his work. In the end the board have made their decision, they’ve had a few bad results and they may have thought that they needed to act and do something and you cannot sack 25 players. Now Pochettino is available he has a few decisions to make: does he want to rest, recharge the batteries, relax and release all the stress or jump straight back in to another club, and if so where? England? Spain? Italy? Germany? He is a big name in football now and I’m sure he won’t be out of a job for long

2019 11 21 Retrieve

[Former Spurs striker Dimitar Berbatov believes a refreshed Mourinho will likely have an instant impact on the squad] With his resume and the amount of trophies he has won in the Champions League, Premier League and wherever he goes, he has earned the right to take no sh*t. If you show him respect he will give you respect back, and he deserves that because he has proven himself by winning so much. The players will want to show him how they can play and they will be thinking that they need to prove themselves to him. He will bring new ideas, a new way of playing, new exercises in training and the players will need to show themselves, all of them.

In every club you have that player hierarchy, you know that you are good, maybe you are the captain of the team and you know you are going to play, but at the same time that doesn’t give you the right to just lay back and play off your name, you need to work hard and this will be the case with Mourinho. This new appointment, like every time a new manager comes in, will bring new life to the team, it will shake things up and people will wake up a bit and start proving themselves. The Spurs players should be excited because they are going to play for one of the best managers in the world and it is a great opportunity for them.

Mourinho has had a good rest, he was watching teams playing, commentating, he will have drawn lessons and conclusions from his last job at Man Utd and now it’s a fresh start for him. By appointing him, the board were probably thinking ‘wherever he goes he brings trophies’ and Spurs need a trophy, we talk about it all the time.

2019 11 30 Retrieve

[Dimitar Berbatov says Marcus Rashford will be attracting admiring glances from afar] It is great to see Marcus Rashford putting in top class performances and scoring goals and I hope that this will continue for a long time. He’s only 22 but it feels like he has been playing for 100 years, he’s still so young and he has so much more time to come in his career to score even more goals. I hope that he continues to work on that last crucial step before you shoot. That is what makes a great striker, that last decision when you are facing down the goalkeeper you need to know where to put the ball, how much power or finesse is required and this is a small aspect of the game that is so important.

He is still so young and no doubt he will be on the radar of a few other clubs, but I see him as a typical born and bred Manchester United player, someone who can carry the torch for academy players coming through at United, to show that it can be done. He is the prime example and he can still go further, maybe one day he can be the captain. I can see him staying at United for a very long time and it honestly wouldn’t surprise me if he is a one-club man. I always wanted to be like that but it was never possible for me

2019 12 06 Retrieve

[Berbatov unsure if Haaland is right for Man Utd as he doesn’t think Solskjaer needs new striker] Manchester United outplayed Tottenham at Old Trafford by moving the ball quickly, being aggressive and generally playing with the kind of purpose that United fans expect to see. The movement of Jesse Lingard, Mason Greenwood and especially Marcus Rashford was excellent and the team’s performance was a big step in the right direction.

Rashford scored his first goal from a difficult angle and, even though Paulo Gazzaniga should have saved his shot, it gave the United striker the belief that this was his night. That’s why he was shooting from long-range and playing with great confidence. He confused Tottenham’s defenders with his skills, they were rattled by his pace and power, which is why Moussa Sissoko conceded the penalty in the second half.

If United’s attacking players can perform as well as they did against Tottenham, and Anthony Martial plays to his potential when he returns from injury, then there’s no need for Ole to sign a striker in January. Bringing in a new forward at this point could even discourage the players that United already have.

I know there’s speculation about Erling Braut Haaland coming to Old Trafford. He’s a big centre-forward, an old fashioned target man who scores tap-ins, so he would offer United something different, but they need to think carefully about how he would fit into their style of play

United do well against the Premier League’s stronger teams - thumping Chelsea on the opening day, beating Leicester, drawing with Liverpool and now defeating Spurs. Bigger teams’ style of play suits United and some players find it easier to motivate themselves against big opponents than they do against so-called smaller clubs. City aren’t as strong as they have been in recent seasons and, as Norwich, Wolves and Liverpool have shown, they can be beaten. United can surprise City and take all three points. That would end City’s title hopes, which would be great, except that it would hand the title to Liverpool, which is even worse. But if United win on Saturday, they won’t be thinking about that

2019 12 06b Retrieve

[former Spurs forward Dimitar Berbatov says Tottenham would be the perfect club for Gareth Bale should he finally leave Real Madrid] Gareth Bale has said he thinks Jose Mourinho is a good fit for Tottenham so it seems possible that the Portuguese could try to sign the Welshman in January. That would be a great move for both parties. I’m a big admirer of Bale. It’s not working out for him in Madrid and, if he comes back to England, Spurs would probably be the ideal club for him. He understands the club and was a great player for them before he left for Spain. I would be very pleased to see him back at Spurs

2019 12 14 Retrieve

[Dimitar Berbatov says Man Utd don’t need Haaland or Mandzukic with Harry Kane the only striker signing that would make sense for the Red Devils] I don’t think United need to sign a striker in January as they have decent options up front already. I want Marcus Rashford to get better and better, I’m a big admirer of Anthony Martial and am keen to see Mason Greenwood get more time on the pitch. I think United have the talent there and signing a new striker, whether it’s an emerging talent like Haaland or the more experienced Mario Mandzukic, could discourage their young players. I know there’s speculation about Haaland coming to United in January. He’s a big centre-forward, an old-fashioned target man who scores tap-ins - so quite different from Rashford and Martial. Haaland would offer United something different, but coming from Red Bull Salzburg in the Austrian Bundesliga would be a massive step up, so United need to think carefully about if he’s the right man and how he would fit in with their style of play

If they could get Harry Kane then that would be great, because he has everything. But it’s not going to happen. United fans want to see strikers who play with the element of surprise, beating defenders and shooting from different angles, so the way to deal with the pressure as a new United striker is to be different. There aren’t many strikers around who are available and would fit into United’s system

2019 12 18 Retrieve

[Dimitar Berbatov says Manchester United do not need to sign 19-year-old striker Erling Haaland because Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial are good enough to lead the team’s attack] [Haaland] is good and he is still young. He is developing and maybe he can get better. But I’ve said many times before that Martial and Rashford are, for me, the two main strikers that Manchester United need to keep. I love them. I played with Martial in Monaco, I know how good he can be. Now he is in the place he can develop and become a world star. Everyone knows how good Rashford can be as well. He is still 22, something like that, so he still has a long way to go and he can become even better. So, for me, they need to stick with these two players

[With 18-year-old Mason Greenwood, who has seven goals to his name] If they need to buy one more [striker], I’m not sure because Manchester United fans want to see speed, beating players, getting past players, having confidence, scoring fantastic goals. I’m not sure that if they buy a typical centre-forward, he’s going to fit into the system. I forgot about Mason Greenwood as well. I said it before, if you buy someone, the players will be like: ‘wait a minute, I’m young and if you buy someone it means you don’t trust me’. They need to stick with these young players because they have so much talent. Just nurture them, show them the right way and they’ll be fantastic

2019 12 20 Retrieve

[Dimitar Berbatov says Paul Pogba should be looking to stay at Manchester United because he can give so much more to the team] Paul Pogba’s injury and illness means it is a frustrating time at the moment for everyone, especially the player. He will want to be out there playing and training with the boys and he is one of their best players. He can really find that final pass when the game isn’t quite going too well and that’s why I would like to see Pogba back on the pitch as soon as possible because it has been a while now. He will need to find his rhythm in the first couple of games but I’m sure he will be back to his best. For me, I would like to see Pogba stay at United, he can give so much more to the team, many others may not agree but he is a player who is always one or two steps ahead, he has that pass and has an incredible shot on him. I hope he comes back stronger

Normally when the transfer window comes round there is talk about positions and areas where teams need to strengthen, but at the moment can’t I think of anywhere that United need to strengthen. They have a good defence, in midfield Scott McTominay is getting up the ranks and finding his place in the team, Pogba will be back soon, Fred is getting better and better with every game and up front the three of Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Daniel James are unbelievable. I don’t think they should go for anyone in January

2020 01 09 Retrieve

[Berbatov’s advice for Rashford as he says he feels like ‘sht’ after Manchester derby]</b> It was another great goal from Rashford [against City] and a really fast counter attack. United have some very quick players and they didn’t take advantage of that. The only trouble sometimes is that the quick players want the ball at their feet and they are not using the space in front of them, but when they try to use the space and make a run the midfield players are not seeing them and not giving them the ball.

If I am as quick as Rashford and make three runs and nobody sees me or gives me the ball, on the fourth one I wouldn’t waste my energy, it’s all psychological. When I was playing, Sir Alex would say ‘Give Berba the ball, and when you give it to him, don’t stay, run, because he’s going to find you’. You need to know your team-mates, who is going to pass you the ball and who is going to make the run, these kinds of things are small details, but they are the most important.

Rashford needs to be strong with his team-mates, if he needs to have an argument on the pitch or shout ‘f
cking give me the ball,’ do it, it doesn’t matter, you need to show character and have that will to win. Argue or fight, it doesn’t matter if everything is for the purpose of winning the game, you fcking do it

Honestly, after that first leg against City I feel like sh
t. The first half was way below standards, it was not good to watch, the team was all over the place and City were the better side for sure - everybody saw that. In the second half there was a bit of an improvement on all fronts, but it was not enough and when City score three goals against you to change the game is next to impossible, as we saw.

The only thing good about it is that there is another game and hopefully they have time to take something from it and show a better account of themselves. I have seen a lot of people saying that the first half was the worst they’ve ever seen United play, I don’t want to jump to conclusions, but it wasn’t good. Honestly, City should have scored not three but five goals.

[Raheem] Sterling not being in his best moment to finish a couple of chances in front of goal was a good thing for United. I think the outcome was more down to how poor United were in the first half and not necessarily how good City were. Hopefully, they will recover for the next leg, the real problem is that we are seeing too many of this kind of performances, of course it’s not every game but we are seeing it more than we want to, even if it’s just a poor spell in a match, the fans don’t want to see it

2020 01 09b Retrieve

[Dimitar Berbatov says Manchester United should have no concerns when it comes to sanctioning a move to Inter for Ashley Young with Aaron Wan-Bissaka the perfect replacement] The transfer window is open and already there is a lot of speculation flying around, the latest being the future of Ashley Young. When you start to change different players and you prepare to lose someone, you need someone to step up as a replacement.

Wan-Bissaka has been outstanding, the way he defends, intercepts the ball and goes into tackles is great, and he’s still young so he has a lot to learn but he has already proven to be the perfect replacement, so if the club do sell Ashley Young to Inter, I don’t think they need to worry about it with Wan-Bissaka.

I really like him and it’s great that United bought him, he has a bright future and now he need to stay concentrated, be persistent and work hard like every player. With the speed he has and the way he recovers the ball, you can really see how precise these details of his games are and if he continues this way I think he’ll be at United for a very long time

[Berbatov concedes that the Norwegian is under pressure] It doesn’t matter who is in charge, every manager in this position, producing the same results, is going to get criticised. It is the easiest thing in the world to do, everyone can criticise. Sometimes, you need to take it and try to figure out where you have gone wrong and sometimes it’s not necessary. The manager needs to stay positive and give that vibe that everything is OK and that he has it under control. I can imagine that Ole is angry at the moment and I’m sure he’ll show that in the dressing room, but sometimes you have to stay cool, professional and polite to show that you are in control of things

2020 01 15 Retrieve

[Dimitar Berbatov says Success for Solskjaer at Man Utd will be seeing out the season] As harsh and difficult as it sounds, in a position where he is attacked from every side based on performances, a success is probably going to be [Solskjaer] being in charge until the end of the season. And for Man Utd, [the target should be to finish] as high as possible in the table. It’s going to be a difficult road because after every loss you start with [calls to] change the players or change the manager. This is not good for the current manager, he will not feel good. Sometimes people react under influences like this, when you read things in the paper or have people telling you to change the manager. And you make the wrong decision

[When asked what he wanted to see from Solskjaer during the second half of the season] I’d like to see him live and work in peace as much as possible

2020 01 18 Retrieve

[Berbatov believes 18-year-old academy graduate Greenwood is ready to take on more responsibility] If Marcus Rashford is going to miss Sunday’s match against Liverpool through injury then no doubt it will be a big blow for the team.

Sometimes these kind of injuries happen when you come from the bench into a match, which is why it’s sometimes better to rest your big players and rotate the team, especially when you have so many games. I just hope it’s not something serious for him because he is a key player.

I’m sure Mason Greenwood will be looking at this situation and thoughts will be crossing his mind. I have no doubt that his time is coming. I think he should be confident and calm enough to step up and not feel too much pressure if Rashford isn’t available. Greenwood is only 18 and he’s scored plenty of goals already this season, which is a great achievement.

Greenwood has got nothing to worry about if he is to lead the line on Sunday because, when he has been given chances to shine, he has done great. He’s a goalscorer, and with that left foot of his, he certainly knows where the net is. I wish him luck for Sunday and I’d urge him to stay calm, don’t be nervous and if the chance comes, just take it

2020 01 24 Retrieve

[Dimitar Berbatov says Man Utd need a ‘bully’ like Carlos Tevez at the moment] There have been reports linking Carlos Tevez back to United on loan, I say why not?! When you have these loan deals it’s good to get someone who knows the place, knows the situation of the club and the fans.

Of course, he went to Man City but I’m sure the fans would welcome him back. If there is some truth in the story then it’s something that needs to be carefully thought about, the pros and cons need to be weighed up. But, if there’s no other option, this could be the right one.

In the dressing room, he was quiet, a bit like me, but that’s not always important. We all saw what he was like on the pitch, he would run like crazy, fight for his team, score goals and he would never give up until the final whistle and you could say that is what United need now.

There’s no one in the team that can bully someone from the opposition like Tevez, or Roy Keane, who would also rip your throat out if you didn’t work hard for the team. Maybe they do need Carlos Tevez for that reason, he always had that quality of shouting and fighting for the team.

When he made the switch to City I didn’t pay much attention to it and I don’t think many others did. It was a professional business way of doing things, yes he went to our rivals but it was his decision and we all said good luck to him.

As a professional, I respected all my team-mates and players that I played against, so whatever they did was their own business. You need to respect and admire someone that plays for their club and gives everything for them. Many players have switched allegiances throughout their careers and I don’t think it’s a big deal in modern football anymore

2020 01 24b Retrieve

[Dimitar Berbatov thinks that Manchester United will continue to struggle to attract top players] United have been sliding for a while and once you get like that it is difficult to stop. Yes, they have won some trophies on the way but overall if you look you can clearly see that United are not where everybody wants them and expects them to be.

It is easy to blame and point the finger but of course, there are a number of factors causing issues and stress in the team. Sometimes when you decline so much you lose games, the pressure builds, and you go on the pitch and you just don’t want the ball, and that is the worst thing a player can do.

I think Ole is still the man to stop the decline, but they need to do business in the transfer market and buy some players now. The question is who do they go out and get and do the players even want to come to Old Trafford. The sad part is, United will now have to work hard to convince players to come. In the past, you only had to say the name ‘Manchester United’ and you were there asking where do you sign.

If you asked a group of players now, out of Manchester United and other big teams where would they like to go, United would probably be the last place they’d want to go, which is really depressing, and it shows just how much they have declined. It is what it is and whoever is in charge of signing players needs to go and speak to people and do their best because if the slide continues then things will only get worse

I keep reading about Bruno Fernandes, he’s not a magician, do people really think if a player comes in the team are automatically going to start winning? He’s just one man, that’s not how it works, it’s a team game and you can’t expect just one person to come it and change things at United, even if it is Messi or Ronaldo. The situation they are in now need a team, they need that togetherness to get out of it all together, not just with one player. Sometimes, you have a good player that can get you out of trouble and win you a game but not in a situation like this, they need to stay together

2020 01 25 Retrieve

[Dimitar Berbatov says Gareth Bale should be considering a move to Manchester United or Tottenham] Gareth Bale managed to get on the score sheet in midweek for Real Madrid, but it was sad to see him come off injured, you want to see players like that play all the time. But then, I’m surprised that when you play at this high level, for Real Madrid, and you have so many injuries throughout your career and you can’t seem to get rid of them - what is going on?

I’m sure Real Madrid have a great medical department, but the player needs to know their body and if needs be they should train a different way. To see those injuries keep coming up, something isn’t right. I’m sure Bale is frustrated as well because as a player you don’t want to miss games or training, even if you play badly. I love watching Bale when he plays, I want him to stay fit and healthy, if he wants to stay at Real Madrid I’d like him to stay, but if he wants to go, I’d like to see him go back to Spurs or go to Man United. In the end it’s all down to him, obviously he likes it there

2020 01 31 Retrieve

[Manchester United fending off apparent interest from Barcelona to land Bruno Fernandes is great news for the club] It’s a big signing and United have paid a lot of money for Bruno Fernandes and I hope he will give the team a boost, but to rely on just one man to turn things around is going to make things difficult. I would like to be proven wrong and of course I want him to do well but it’s foolish just to rely on him. It shows intent from United and I hope they buy someone else. He is joining up with a young, great team, and the players that are there will see that effort is being made to improve the quality of the side, and I’m sure they will want to up their game and impress, especially the midfield players because they have competition now and I’m sure they will be telling themselves that they need to put more effort in during training and matches

He is following in the footsteps of Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani and I hope he makes the same impact that both those players did.

I mean what can you say about Ronaldo that hasn’t been already said? When I shared the changing room with him he was always a great professional, he had a great work ethic and he was a great lad as well. He could take a joke and give it back.

At first it was a bit difficult for Nani because he was playing in a similar position to Cristiano, but he held his own when he needed to. I heard rumours that Barcelona were also interested in signing him, and if that was the case he has shown that he prefers United so he must have seen something he liked. He’s going to play but he is a big-money signing and now he needs to justify to the club why he is worth so much.

He doesn’t need to think about the price and as a midfield player I don’t think he needs to focus on scoring goals, his purpose is to control games, get assists and help his team-mates and the most important thing is to get into the rhythm of the Premier League

2020 01 31b Retrieve

[Former Spurs team-mate Dimitar Berbatov talk of Gareth Bale who continues to attract criticism for form, fitness and supposed lack of commitment to the Blancos cause] I love watching Bale when he plays, I want him to stay fit and healthy, if he wants to stay at Real Madrid I’d like him to stay, but if he wants to go, I’d like to see him go back to Spurs or go to Man Utd. In the end it’s all down to him, obviously he likes it there

2020 02 07 Retrieve

[Berbatov wants Odion Ighalo unleashed as soon as possible] I think it’s a good move for United because Ighalo has played in the Premier League, and did well with Watford, so he will know what to expect. He’s scored plenty of goals in China and his record for Nigeria is impressive too. I want to see him play as soon as possible because I’m curious to see how he will fit in to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s plans. Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial both like to cut in from the left so United have arguably lacked a natural No.9 this season. That’s what Ighalo should give them and I will be interested to see how they play with him in the side. I liked Ighalo’s interview in which he said how happy he was to move to Old Trafford. He was so keen that he told his agent he would accept a pay cut. It’s great to see United sign a player who is passionate about the club. They need players like that

Bruno Fernandes performed well on his debut against Wolves. He will need a few games to get used to the rhythm of the team but the Portuguese midfielder showed that he’s an intelligent player, with an eye for a killer pass and powerful shot. As he grows into his role, I can see Fernandes controlling games. But there were a couple of incidents that suggested he needs to work on the physical side of his game. The Premier League is the most physical league, much tougher than the Portuguese league and faster too. The signs are good for Fernandes and I am looking forward to United’s next match, following the winter break, to see how he slots into United’s system and if he can add creativity

2020 02 07b Retrieve

[Berbatov backing ex-Man Utd team-mate to follow Giggs’ lead] Cristiano Ronaldo, turned 35 this week and is still at the top of his game. He’s scored 33 goals this season which is phenomenal. Ronaldo has said he wants to be playing at the highest level when he’s 40. I can see him doing that. Ryan Giggs was playing for United at 40 and, when you have good coaches around you who know how to manage you, it is possible. The Portuguese star is still fired up and it is a joy to me to see him, and 38-year-old Zlatan Ibrahimovic, performing brilliantly. I did ask myself recently if I had retired too soon. But you need to listen to your body and know when to stop

Gareth Bale’s agent has said the player has no intention of leaving Madrid, even though he nearly signed for a Chinese team last summer and there are rumours about where he could be off to at the end of this season. When journalists and fans talk about transfer rumours they often only think about the player’s role in his team and forget that there are other factors, including how the player’s family feel. If the player and his family are happy in the city then he could be content at a club. I read that Bale’s family really like living in Madrid, so it could be that he does stay. As long as he’s at the club, Bale will play and his performances show that he still has a lot to offer them. But I would still like to see him starting every week

2020 02 14 Retrieve

[Berbatov supports transfer but warns Jadon Sancho needs minutes] For me, he needs to play, he needs to continue his development and that’s why I’m surprised he wants to go because Dortmund gave him that opportunity as a player.

He is still far away from a complete player, he is so young, so wherever he goes I hope he gets minutes so that he can play and continue his development and show how good he is. Is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer going to sign him for Manchester United? Why not? Coming from my time there, I would like to see him go to Old Trafford. Of course, it will make them more powerful, it will give them more speed than what they already have, but the question is where will he play?

United have Daniel James, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood, it is going to be a good fight for competition with all those young players there, which is a good thing. But, overall, I would like to see him go somewhere and get minutes, not go straight to the bench and play from time to time.

His signature is going to be very sought after and there is already talk about Liverpool and Chelsea also being interested. Teams want to invest in talented young players, but if teams go out to sign him at any cost, then he is going to have a big expectation on him, and he needs to play regularly to develop.

He may decide to stay abroad and go to a different club like PSG, Bayern Munich or Barcelona. There will be many clubs after him and it is down to him where he goes. As a player it is a very flattering situation when many teams are after your signature. It boosts your ego and it tells you that you are doing something right. It makes you feel good but you do have choices to make which can be a bit overwhelming, you have to make a number of decisions and calculate where you will feel good, where you won’t feel good and, of course, there are a number of financial decisions to make which is important.

2020 02 28 Retrieve

[Dimitar Berbatov says Bruno Fernandes makes Man Utd a different side] It will be difficult for United to finish in the Premier League top four but, with Spurs and Chelsea performing inconsistently, it is not impossible. United look like a different team with Fernandes always looking to get on the ball, drive them forward and play the strikers in. I would have enjoyed playing in front of Fernandes because, for a striker, you are always willing to make runs when you know you have somebody in midfield who can find you with a pass. As well as his creativity, Fernandes has a good shot on him. The only aspect of his performance that he needs to work on is his aggression in the defensive part of the game but that should come as he gets more experience in the Premier League

Since being made permanent club captain, Harry Maguire has grown in stature and that’s rubbing off across the defence. They will need to maintain that discipline when they go to Everton on Sunday for what should be their toughest test for a few weeks

2020 03 06 Retrieve

[Berbatov sees new boy proving people wrong] I’m really happy to see that Odion Ighalo is settling in well and he deserves it with the way he is playing, how he links the plays and the goals he is scoring.

All the team are happy when he scores which shows he is fully integrated, and I like the way he looks for the ball and bullies the defenders.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t know too much about him before he joined, obviously I knew about his record in the Premier League, but I questioned if he was the right man and if he would get into the team, but so far he is doing well and proving me wrong.

When you need to play more direct in a game you need a presence in the box, a guy who knows how to get onto the end of a ball, bully the defenders and win the ball. Ighalo can do that, but he can also play, is technically good as well, he can keep the ball and give it to his team-mates and get into the box, that’s why I like him. He doesn’t just stay in the box and try to head the ball. He is linking really well with others and that shows in the team performances when he is involved

Bruno Fernandes is scoring and is full of confidence, he gives the team that extra creativity and hopefully his first derby will be a win, and why not. When you come into a new country and a new team you already know who your big rivals are going to be and now in the lead up to Sunday he is going to know what this game is all about. These days, even if you don’t watch football you know who Man City are and who plays for them. Fernandes will have done his homework and he will be prepared. These two teams know each other so well, some of them probably go for dinner together, you have these things, but when you step onto the pitch it’s about my team not yours

2020 03 06b Retrieve

[Berbatov says Eric Dier fan fracas a symptom of bigger issues] You can tell that there is quite a bit of tension at Spurs with how Eric Dier reacted after the game against Norwich. You don’t react like that if everything is calm. Yes, they lost a game, everyone loses games. If you react so impulsively from anger, it shows that something isn’t going right for you and the team

I respect what he did because if that was me, I would probably do the same, but we should avoid things like this because people can take advantage of your emotions. Unfortunately, football crowds are quite abusive and every player suffers from it, even Messi and Ronaldo. But we are all human beings and if someone brings your family into it of course you are going to protect them, but it shouldn’t happen. Of course, we are all fans of our teams but it’s not easy out there. It’s easy to say: ‘What the f***, I can do better,’ but trust me it’s really difficult on the pitch and people should control their emotions about players and especially their families

2020 03 17 Retrieve

[Dimitar Berbatov says Pogba should stay but can he play with Fernandes?’] I don’t know if Fernandes and Pogba can play together. Bruno Fernandes’ ball into Odion Ighalo for the first United goal against LASK was the perfect assist. What a pass. Oh my god. And what a finish from Ighalo. It was a world class goal, I was so happy for both players and jumping out my seat when it hit the net. Fernandes has quickly become an influential player for United. I’m pleased and impressed by how well integrated into the team he’s become in a short space of time. His team-mates are looking for him with the ball because they know he can create magic. He looks happy to be playing for United. I really hope he continues in this form. As a fan of Paul Pogba, I want him to stay at United, I think it would be best for him, but I am curious to see how he will link up with Fernandes. They’re similar players, both intelligent enough to think three steps ahead when they’re on the ball. Sometimes footballers are too similar to play together. But I hope that’s not the case here because, with Fernandes and Pogba in the same midfield, United could be a very imaginative team that would surprise opponents next season or even sooner

2020 03 17b Retrieve

[Berbatov backing Spurs boss to come good] There’s no need to panic. The suspension to the Premier League means Mourinho has time to think over strategies and get players back from injury. I thought Mourinho was a good choice to replace Mauricio Pochettino. I still have faith in the Portuguese and believe any head coach deserves a full season to bring in his players and implement his philosophy. Judge Mourinho on next season.

The injuries to Harry Kane and others have been very unfortunate but Spurs still have quality throughout their squad. Sometimes I get the feeling that some players are not playing for the team and are trying to take the glory for themselves. That can ruin goal-scoring opportunities. Spurs should try to release the forwards quicker on the counter-attack. Small details make all the difference in football and the players have to take responsibility for results. All Mourinho can do is prepare them because once they’re on the pitch it’s up to them. It’s going to be a long journey for Spurs under Mourinho and they shouldn’t give up on him yet

2020 03 20 Retrieve

[Berbatov wants to see Fernandes partnership] Once again there is a lot of talk about Paul Pogba and his future. He hasn’t played for a long time, people are asking questions of him: does he want to play, how long will it take for him to return, when he comes back will he be able to play with Bruno Fernandes, how will he fit into the team - these are all unanswered questions that sooner or later we will find out. I want him to stay at United and I want to see him play alongside Fernandes and the team, if not there will always be a team waiting for Pogba, if that is Real Madrid, Juventus or someone else who knows, but he will fit in anywhere. The criticism Pogba gets is unfair and he, like some other players, get criticised just for the sake of it, it doesn’t matter what he does

He is doing everything he can to get fit and to help his team because I have seen first-hand how he used to train with us as a boy, with ambition and the aspiration to be one of the best, so I don’t doubt his work ethic and desire to become even better. All he will want to do right now is play football, we are all human beings and as much as you try to avoid it, criticism always gets to you.

I would like to see Pogba get fit as soon as possible and not get injured again, so that he can do what he does best and we can see him play great football. If he was to move, wherever he goes he will be fine.

He knows that if it isn’t working out that there is always a team waiting for him some place else and if he goes he’ll play and do well. Look at Romelu Lukaku, I mean what the f*ck? It didn’t work out for him at United and now he has been reborn at Inter, how do you explain that?

It’s human nature, sometimes you just don’t feel comfortable in one place because the criticism is too much, you close yourself off and don’t let people in. You think to yourself: ‘It doesn’t matter what I do, nobody appreciates it,’ then you move and you score 23 goals for your new club.

One thing I will say about the Real Madrid rumours is, don’t forget Zinedine Zidane is manager there and when you have a manager or other players from the same country you always speak and know that you will get on, especially speaking the same language, it makes you feel comfortable and that is not to be underestimated in this situation

2020 03 20b Retrieve

[Berbatov buoyed by Solskjaer’s progress] Very few people were expecting to see Manchester United beat Pep Guardiola’s Man City both home and away in the Premier League this season. To beat them twice was a big feat. I have said this before, but for me, City are not the team they were last season, they are in the shadow of Liverpool and they know it. Sometimes, that can play on your mind and it can affect the way you perform and the way you perform- if you are a clever enough opposition you will know how to use that and it was a perfect example of how to exploit City’s weaknesses. The two league results against City are a real positive for the club, it gives the manager and players the chance to say: ‘You see, we are capable to beat the reigning champions and we can do it’. Yes, United have had some bad games this season but they have proven that they are fully capable of turning up and putting on a strong performance against one of the best teams in the league. Sometimes, patience is a virtue, but when you work and follow your philosophy, in the case of Ole, at some point it will pay off. Looking at both of the games against City in the league, I really enjoyed to 2-0 at Old Trafford. Both of them are results that need to be cherished and both of them brought points to the table, but the match at home was proof that the first result wasn’t a fluke, they proved themselves

2020 03 21 Retrieve

[Berbatov urges patience with Spurs boss] First of all, it was sad to see Mauricio Pochettino get sacked at Spurs. It took everyone by surprise, but then, on the other hand, it was a highlight to see the club go for Jose Mourinho and get him. I didn’t expect it and it showed an intention from the club. Mourinho came from United and he didn’t have a great end to his time there but he was still winning trophies, which is what Spurs need really bad and that was probably the main reason they went for him. He’s a proven name and one of the best in the world in the past 15 years. It’s still a bit too soon to judge the job he has been doing, for me he needs a full season before we start to judge the job he has done

2020 03 27 Retrieve

[Dimitar Berbatov says Sancho won’t think twice about Man Utd move] There’s been a lot of talk about Jadon Sancho moving to Manchester United, in his case, because he’s English and Man United are in for you, I don’t think he will think twice about moving there. I have said it before, he has the quality, the pace, the goals and the assists to play for them, I’m sure he would like to continue in the national team as well and Gareth Southgate will watch him more if he is playing in the Premier League. For me, if they get him he is going to be a great addition but I’m curious to see how they would line up. United have: Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Daniel James, Mason Greenwood and possibly Sancho next season, even though you want that competition for young players it could be tricky to see them all playing at the same time.

If he is going to move somewhere else, he needs to know that he is going to play regularly, there is no point going somewhere else and not playing as much as you want. Ultimately, it is down to you, when you get the chance to show you can play, you have to take it and show what you can do. Also, when you play abroad you always want to go back to your home country. When that happens to be England and the Premier League, you’re going to jump at the chance if the right team comes in for you. He could be a great addition, he needs to step up, play, score and advance to the next stage of his development.

Solskjaer is slowly, but surely, building up a team of young players with a mix of experience, and as we can see, it has been getting results, so it’s good to see them moving in the right direction and if Sancho is next then it will be great for the team

2020 03 27b Retrieve

[Berbatov talks up move for Spurs-linked striker] Luka Jovic is still a really young footballer and he had a great season with Eintracht Frankfurt which earned him a move to Real Madrid, at the moment things aren’t going his way but let’s not forget that he has Karim Benzema ahead of him. For me, Benzema is one of the most underrated players in football at the moment, he scores so many goals and he often doesn’t get the recognition he deserves.

It’s difficult for Jovic, because he has to get ahead of the Frenchman, but when Zinedine Zidane gives him another chance I hope he takes it, scores goals and shows what he was doing in Germany, if not he has two choices: be patient and work hard, or go to England or somewhere else he can play. Like me, he is from the Balkans and we like life a bit too much at times, so I hope that success and his move to Real Madrid hasn’t gone to his head too much, that can be dangerous and he needs to be disciplined.

I was in his position when I was at Bayer Leverkusen, I was the same age and ahead of me was Ulf Kirsten, who was a god at Leverkusen and one of the best German strikers ever. I was in that position thinking ‘why the f*ck am I not playing, I deserve to play, I demand to play.’ You think lots of stupid things because you’re young and you think you know everything but with a bit of patience, hard work and good people around you to tell you the truth about the situation, it helps.

That’s one option. The other, if you want to play immediately, you choose to go on loan or find a club that will buy you so that you play more, if Jovic is in that place right now I can see him being useful to a number of clubs in the Premier League

2020 04 03 Retrieve

[Dimitar Berbatov says If Manchester United move for Harry Kane and Sancho they won’t need Ighalo] If Ighalo continues how he has done so far, scoring goals and helping the team, then I think he should be given another contract, but saying that you need to weigh up the situation. Sancho and Kane are two names being talked up with moves to the club at the moment, so you need to calculate what direction the club wants to go. Do they want to buy new strikers? If they do it would seem strange to keep Ighalo. With the current situation, I can’t see them spending too much and I think it would make sense for Ighalo to stay

It wouldn’t be a bad thing to keep him around, I think Solskjaer needs to give him his honest thoughts. At the moment I think he has more of a back-up striker role to Anthony Martial or Marcus Rashford, I think he knows that and you can see he appreciates it because when he gets a chance he does his job, which is great. If he is going to stay, they will all start on an equal footing and if you train well and you score goals, you will play. I don’t think he will just want to be a back-up striker, nobody wants that, you want to play from the start

2020 04 05 Retrieve

[Dimitar Berbatov says Timo Werner should ignore transfer interest from Liverpool and instead join Bayern Munich] There have been reports about Bayern Munich’s interest in Timo Werner, and having played in the Bundesliga, Munich are up there with the biggest names like Real Madrid, Manchester United, Barcelona, Manchester City, Juventus and so on. Every season they are up there in the Champions League and they have been dominant in Germany. To be honest, it looks like a sensible move for Werner, he knows the league, they know him there, he can get used to his surroundings a lot easier. The only thing for me that I may question is if he goes there, he will have a lot of competition to face in Robert Lewandowski, Serge Gnabry, Kingsley Coman and potentially Leroy Sane, who they are also linked with, so there are a lot of similarities for one or two positions. But, like I said, it makes more sense for him to go there than move to England where it will probably take him a bit more time to adjust to things.

When you are a player in that position and a few teams want you, it feels good but it can make your head spin and you get sleepless nights because you want to make the right decision. I don’t think Liverpool will miss out if he doesn’t move to Merseyside, their front three are so good. I don’t see many players coming close to them at the moment, the way they link up, the way they switch positions is so phenomenal. It’s hard to see someone else fitting in the way they do

2020 04 07 Retrieve

[Dimitar Berbatov says Liverpool deserve the title] We are all missing football, it is our religion. I have seen that a couple of players have spoken out asking for a solution.

They have finished the league in Belgium where there was only one game to go, so you can understand that decision, but in the Premier League, there are still nine rounds of fixtures to go.

I have seen people calling for the season to be void, to give the title to Liverpool and other opinions. Some people are saying their teams could play their remaining fixtures in a couple of weeks, but that can lead to many injuries. I don’t know which decision is the right one, whatever is decided won’t be so popular.

People are suggesting to give the title to Liverpool, and honestly, they deserve it the way they had been playing, nobody was going to catch them. With the way they play their games, the football they produced and how far they are in front, they fully deserve the title this season. It’s so strange, and it will be unfair on them if the season is voided, they will be so disappointed.

people who make the decisions at the Premier League are facing something they have never experienced before, and people are split on what should happen. I would like to see the season finish with football, but obviously people’s safety comes first

2020 04 07b Retrieve

[Berbatov reveals favourite strike partner] The likes of Rooney and Keane, we complemented each other, and that’s even if you don’t speak a lot outside the pitch. You respect each other for what you do on the pitch. You see what each other can do and how you help each other get better. In turn, you help the team. Everyone wins. At Leverkusen, I had a great partnership with a guy called França. We scored so many goals. We destroyed Bayern Munich 4-1 one season. We both got two goals each. He didn’t speak English or German so outside the pitch we didn’t say a word. Literally nothing. Honestly, nothing. I saw how he trained and played on the pitch and the other way around

When we stepped on the pitch, man, it was like we were sleeping together! I was enjoying playing with that guy. Unbelievable. Not selfish. I was in a better position and he would give me the ball. When I gave him the ball, he scored. It was like Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke. It was unbelievable how we played together. Playing with him helped me develop. I appreciate that when I play with players better or on my level. You can always learn something.

I didn’t expect we would get to the final. In fact, I didn’t even know or appreciate what it was. I was just a young boy sitting on the bench. If you don’t realise the importance of a moment, then you can stop thinking what if I make a mistake? You want to play and enjoy. In that way, I didn’t think at all. The one thing that scared me wasn’t that it was the final of the Champions League, it was facing Raul, Zidane, Luis Figo and Roberto Carlos. You sit there as a fanboy

This was the first time it happened to me. I came into the game in the 39th minute; you show respect for the players and you are scared to touch them, let alone tackle them. You see him going past you with the ball; you are saying Berba, fcking tackle him. Just tackle him. But you cannot allow yourself to do it because you respect them. I am fcking facing Zidane. I can’t believe it. We changed nothing for the final, played our way. We were this close to doing something

Zidane’s goal was one of the most beautiful ones, the first one from Raul was the ugliest ever. The second was the most beautiful. I was standing directly in the line of Zidane’s volley on the halfway line. I was watching and following the attack, Roberto Carlos’ cross and Zidane karate kick. You are thinking, no, no. You can’t save that. You expect it to be a goal. I was thinking please no. Someone do something to stop him. You want to see goals like this. Zidane scores goals on stages like this. That’s why he is Zidane

When I was a young boy in Bulgaria, everyone my age was smoking. They said: ‘Berba take a cigarette’. ‘No!’ They said: ‘Are you not a man?’ ‘Are you afraid?’ ‘You are not a man if you don’t smoke.’ I was like: ‘I will show you [I am a man], don’t worry about it, I will go my own way’. You can’t tell me how to behave. I chose the way I wanted to be. I never smoked or drank like crazy. My father used to be a footballer and from time to time, he told me stories of good players who made nothing of themselves because of bad choices. It stuck in my head. You don’t want to be like that. You will make some bad ones but at least try to learn from mistakes. From CSKA Sofia came interest from Leverkusen. I was playing well and in the national team, I was starting to play. I was not at Mbappe or Rashford’s level, but I was in the national team. I left on my own, just me with my suitcase. I was protected all the time with my national team. When you are on your own, you have a language barrier; German is f*cking difficult. New language, new surroundings, different people and everything was new. I learned it in the end, not perfect but I can speak it if I need to. Everything was scary and strange but necessary if I wanted to develop. This is the place where I grew as a man and a footballer

2020 04 10 Retrieve

[Berbatov unsurprised to see Spurs boss break coronavirus lockdown] Jose Mourinho has admitted he was wrong to hold an informal training session with three Tottenham players on Hadley Common in north London.

He did it because he is impatient for football to return, and I understand that, but he’s broken the social distancing rules and that’s not good. Footballers and managers are in an influential position in society and they need to set an example to their fans in this very difficult situation.

I can’t say I was particularly surprised by Mourinho’s behaviour. He has always operated outside the box and that’s one of the reasons he’s been successful and fans love him. But this is different. Hopefully, although it was a mistake to hold this session on the common, Mourinho and his players were still keeping a safe distance from each other.

I can see why Mourinho would be desperate to get back to work. Everyone in football wants the game to return as soon as possible. When you hear that other leagues are already setting a date for when they will resume, then you become even more impatient to get back - but public health comes first.

For players, sitting at home, trying to stay fit, is difficult because they want to be as sharp as possible when the season restarts. Footballers are in a fortunate position, though, compared to most people. Many players live in large houses with gardens so they can improvise training routines at home, with weights for example, but it’s not the same and it isn’t easy to stay focused

2020 04 11 Retrieve

[Berbatov: Scoring the winner for Man Utd against Liverpool feels fcking unbelievable!]</b> When you’re Manchester United at Old Trafford, of course you’re going to put pressure on teams. We were always scoring goals in the last minute. It is in the air. You see that something is coming, you smell that something is coming. And I was so confident that day, I was sure that if I had one more chance, I would score. When Sheasy [John O’Shea] floated the ball into the area, as a striker you need to look and move for the space in the box. Even though there were many, many players in the box in that situation, if you know where to stand, where there will be space, how to position yourself … sometimes the ball is going to come for you. That was the case in that moment. As a young striker, many people told me that one second in football can be very important. If you jump one second before him, it’s over, you win. Sheasy put the ball in, I timed my jump one second before [Jamie] Carragher, it was so easy for me to get the ball, get the header, get the goal. Game over. We win. After that, everything is a blur. You’re running blind. You don’t see anything but colour. Let me tell you, that feeling is fcking unbelievable

[Berbatov’s treble was made even sweeter when he found out just how rare the achievement was] One or two days afterwards, I found out that it was the first hat-trick for United against Liverpool in something like 65 years. I didn’t know that before. It makes me smile because it makes it even more special. A hat-trick, at Old Trafford, against Liverpool, to win the game. Perfect

2020 04 11b Retrieve

[Dimitar Berbatov reveals who his favourite strike partner was during his career with Goal] At Leverkusen, I had a great partnership with a guy called França. We scored so many goals. We destroyed Bayern Munich 4-1 one season. We both got two goals each. He didn’t speak English or German so outside the pitch we didn’t say a word. Literally nothing. Honestly, nothing. I saw how he trained and played on the pitch and the other way around. When we stepped on the pitch, man, it was like we were sleeping together!

2020 04 17 Retrieve

[Dimitar Berbatov believes Paul Pobga has been unfairly singled out by Graeme Souness] Even if it is good criticism, if it is constantly aimed at you and it doesn’t matter what you are doing, at some point you are going to be like: ‘Wait a minute, am I the only player on the fcking planet here?’ It doesn’t matter who the other person is, you are going to say something back and defend yourself, like what Pogba is doing, it’s normal.

There were lots of things that used to p
ss me off when I played, if I had a bad game or I didn’t score I would look in the newspaper and there would be someone saying sh*t things about me. You read comments, you hear people talking about you and then, when you have a good game and score a couple of goals, it’s a ‘coincidence’ or it was ‘against a weak opposition’ and stuff like this.

Of course that gets you thinking, for some people no matter what you do, it is never enough. You try to not pay attention to these things, but it is impossible to do, especially nowadays with social media, you are surrounded with opinions. It was the same for me and my colleagues, there was always someone that didn’t like us.

I have also experienced being a pundit. I liked doing it and maybe I will do it again. I always try not to be too judgmental because I have been there and I know how it is, of course I can easily rip into some players and say this, this and this so that it makes for better TV viewings, but I know how difficult it is at times. I

It might not look like a player is putting that much effort in but people don’t see behind the scenes, so I try to be a voice of reason, even when some players probably do deserve a bit more criticism. I know that every self-respecting footballer, who wants to grow and develop, will know straight away if they don’t play well and they don’t need anyone to tell them

2020 04 17b Retrieve

[Dimitar Berbatov has said he would understand if Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is unhappy at Arsenal] This week there have been lots of rumours surrounding the future of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, it would be a massive blow for Arsenal if he left the club. In my opinion they need to do everything possible to stop him from leaving. I watched him closely at Dortmund and at Arsenal, and for me he is a great player with his speed, his movement and his goals. He is also their captain and a really important player for the team, he is out of contract next year and they should do everything possible to keep him.

You have to ask if Aubameyang is happy at Arsenal and, if he isn’t, I can understand why. Football is about winning trophies and we all know Arsenal are a team that play attractive football but in the end they have been left empty-handed quite a lot of times. That can be frustrating for a player. Barcelona and Real Madrid are the favourites to sign him and as a play in that situation your head is going to spin

The way of life, the way football is conducted, his team-mates and the life his family have in London, are all things that could make him stay. Being a footballer in London is great, and it’s one of the best things ever, especially when you play for a big team like Arsenal. The only things he is missing are trophies

2020 04 25 Retrieve

[Dimitar Berbatov claims Newcastle can sign Bale if they recruit manager like Pochettino] If the rumours are true, and Newcastle are looking at appointing Mauricio Pochettino, it would be a great move for the team. If he goes there then it will be the first sign from the new owners, to the players they are targeting, that the club means business. If you put Pochettino in charge at Newcastle and you go and speak to players, trust me they will pay more attention and take the offer seriously, and I’m talking about big players as well. I know Gareth Bale is among those who have been linked with the club. I’m sure Newcastle will want to rebuild with some top names. If the rumours are true, the first thing Pochettino is going to want is a guarantee that they will buy players because he would like to have as many good players as possible at his disposal so that he can achieve the club’s goals. He has already made his name as one of the best coaches in the world. The question is, does Pochettino actually want to go to Newcastle? When you are connected to names like Real Madrid and Manchester United - and I mean no disrespect to Newcastle - there is a bit of a difference there. The biggest factor that would persuade Pochettino to go to St James’ Park would be having the funds to buy players

2020 04 27 Retrieve

[Berbatov admits being initially underwhelmed by Tottenham interest] I was like, ‘wait a minute, Spurs want me? What? Not Barcelona, Real Madrid and Manchester United?’ I was thinking all these stupid questions because I was thinking I was doing so well that a big team must come after me.

When you’re young, you think you know everything. You think you have all the answers to all the questions, but you have nothing. Again, my intuition will start working the same, ‘Berbs now is the right time, difficult but we need to challenge ourselves’. In the end, their persistence was a big factor for me, and of course, meeting Martin Jol was the moment I knew I had to go there

[Remembering his first meeting with Jol] He’s sitting in the chair like the Godfather! He was like ‘Berba, welcome my boy!’ I was telling myself, ‘this is the right place’ purely because sometimes you just feel the connection with someone, I don’t know how to explain it.

Secondly, because Martin looked like my late granddad, who I loved to death. I was thinking to myself ‘I think we are going to have something here’

2020 04 29 Retrieve

[Berbatov reveals part he played in Martial’s transfer to Man Utd] The United head scout called me, he was like: ‘Berbs, we are looking at this kid Martial and wanted to ask what you think’. I told him this boy is unbelievable, the things he can do. He can be a great player, he just needs someone to guide him on the pitch. Of course, I’m still waiting for my commission!

[Berbatov spoke out on Martial’s fitness woes and confidence issues] In the case of Martial, to get going again and get a goal will give him even more confidence, especially for a striker. But like any other player, the most important thing now is to stay fit, know when to push hard and slowdown in training because when you have so many games you need to know when to save your energy. The last thing he and the club needs is to pick up another injury.

2020 05 03 Retrieve

[Berbatov urges Tottenham star to take up chance to join Man Utd] The final step for me was joining Manchester United and I knew I would be making people disappointed – especially Tottenham fans – but I was following my own path. I knew if I missed that chance another one might not come. This is how it is in football. Sometimes you need to make tough decisions. The same situation is happening with Harry Kane at the moment, the exact same. He’s in the same situation as I was in as he has started asking questions and maybe his head is not in the right place. My head was not in the right place. It was the same with [Christian] Eriksen. He wasn’t really there in the last couple of games. I watched the games and I saw that his head was not there. Kane is in the same situation. If there is any truth in the rumours, it’s in his head, 100 per cent. The lack of trophies is the main problem for players like Kane. He’s not getting any younger. He wants to look back and know he won trophies. When I see Spurs play United now, even if on paper Spurs have better players, they still go there with fear

2020 05 10 Retrieve

[Dimitar Berbatov says he played like Franco Baresi, Paulo Maldini and Franz Beckenbauer all rolled into one when he once had to play at centre-back for Manchester United] First of all it was not five minutes, it was like half an hour maybe! Of course I remember it but not many people remember which game it was. I was like Baresi, Maldini and Beckenbauer in one!

[He and Robbie Keane formed a potent duo in north London] As high as the moon. Keano was unbelievable. When we were playing together, we were creating beautiful masterpieces all day long. He was perfect, in the goals we scored. It was a great time

[Asked about the most underrated team-mates he played with] At Spurs, Ledley King was, for me, a great defender and Jermain Defoe scored a lot of goals. At United, Antonio Valencia was a beast and Michael Carrick was great. I would put myself in there as well

[Tottenham beat Chelsea 2-1 to win the League Cup in 2007-08] Winning the cup in 2008, beating Chelsea at Wembley, I scored in that game. It was my first trophy in England. It was a special moment but honestly every game for Spurs was special for me and I love them. I have so much respect and gratitude for the team and it’s forever

2020 05 22 Retrieve

[Berbatov expects ex-Spurs team-mate to remain in Spain: you can’t compare Newcastle with Real Madrid!] Every time Gareth Bale is mentioned it is a case of will he leave Real Madrid, will he stay, is he playing, is he scoring, is he playing golf, why is he playing golf? It’s tiring and in my opinion, he has his agent, his family, his surroundings and if they think that Madrid is the right place for him then he will stay, it doesn’t matter what anyone else says. Many people think he needs to leave Madrid and some of the supporters want him to leave, but I think he likes it there and if that is the case that is all that will matter to him. Personally, I want to see him play more, score more and produce the performances like he has done in the past. If you are not appreciated where you are, then you go somewhere else.

At Real Madrid his goals to games ratio has been really impressive and some of the goals he has scored during his time there have been amazing, the type of goals that average players cannot score. Look at that goal he scored in the Champions League final against Liverpool - it speaks volumes for the quality he has. You can know a lot about a player by the type of goals they score and the goals that Bale has scored really tell me that he has a lot of quality. There have been a lot of reports about Newcastle possibly signing Bale, he has been at Real Madrid for some time now, he has won so many trophies and he is appreciated around the world for the football he plays. But with all due respect, you cannot compare Newcastle with Real Madrid. If Newcastle want to get him, they need to show him that they are building something. The coach needs somebody with whom he can connect and that might mean they have to get a new coach. If Newcastle appoint Mauricio Pochettino, then OK, great start, but then they need to tell him what other players they are going to sign. If he sees all that and he likes what he sees, maybe he will consider it, but for me, I think he will stay at Real Madrid

2020 05 22b Retrieve

[Dimitar Berbatov claims Kai Havertz is capable of filling Eden Hazard’s boots at Chelsea or starring for Liverpool] This week, Bayer Leverkusen’s Kai Havertz has been linked with a move to the Premier League and that doesn’t surprise me. He has great quality and he will become even better in the future. I was so pleased to see not only him, but the Leverkusen team came back really strong in their win against Werder Bremen. Havertz needs to get used to the sounds that are being made about him following his two goals on Monday night because teams are going to come after him.

There’s a lot of talk that Liverpool, Chelsea and other teams are interested in him, so now he needs to be careful, not let that go to his head and stay focused on his game. He has enough quality and if he continues the way he is going teams will still be there, they won’t go away. All eyes are on the Bundesliga at the moment and when you score goals and play good football it is no surprise that teams like Liverpool want you. I would like to see Havertz in the Premier League at some point, but not right now. I think it is a bit too early for him, I want to see him play more games, score more goals and get more confidence and maturity. I also think he will need a bit more muscle to play in the Premier League, we all know how defenders can squash you and smash you into pieces and you need to be ready for that if you are going to hit the ground running in such a demanding league. I think he should stay at Leverkusen and develop even more and get that experience which will help him for when the time comes to go somewhere else. I think it is interesting to see Chelsea linked with him, they haven’t really replaced Hazard since he left and it was always going to be difficult to do so. I think for sure they need to go for a young player with a lot of football ahead of them, if that is the case then they will also have to be patient as well because sometimes young players need time to adjust to the physicality and speed of Premier League. Havertz is an option for them but it has only been the first week back of the Bundesliga and I hope that he continues the way he has come back, by scoring and producing the goals that he has done so far

2020 05 25 Retrieve

[Former Leverkusen and Manchester United striker Dimitar Berbatov on Ozil-esque Havertz] There’s a lot of talk that Liverpool, Chelsea and other teams are interested in him, so now he needs to be careful, not let that go to his head and stay focused on his game. He has enough quality and if he continues the way he is going teams will still be there, they won’t go away. All eyes are on the Bundesliga at the moment and when you score goals and play good football it is no surprise that teams like Liverpool want you. I would like to see Havertz in the Premier League at some point, but not right now. I think it is a bit too early for him, I want to see him play more games, score more goals and get more confidence and maturity

2020 05 26 Retrieve

[Berbatov says Man Utd should be allowed to sign Ighalo cover] United need to know what is happening with him. If they know they will lose him, they need to find someone else to replace him. If they haven’t already found a replacement, they need to find someone quickly, but if he stays his team-mates get on well with him and he has Premier League experience which is a big plus. For nine games, if they could come to an understanding and then he can go back, this would be the best option. If a team is losing a loan player because of the situation, the federation should allow a team to get someone else because of the situation. If Ighalo goes, United should be allowed to get a replacement, they are in a great place going into this final part of the season and they have a great chance of getting top four, but it will be very difficult as no one wants to join for nine games. The best scenario is for them to come to an agreement to keep Ighalo for the few games, otherwise they will lose out on a player that can score goals in the race for the top four

2020 05 28 Retrieve

[Former United striker Dimitar Berbatov, have already questioned, however, whether the duo will be able to play together] They’re similar players, both intelligent enough to think three steps ahead when they’re on the ball. Sometimes footballers are too similar to play together.

2020 05 12 Retrieve

[Jadon Sancho should remain with Borussia Dortmund for one more year, according to Dimitar Berbatov, who does not think now is the right time for him to go to Manchester United] Sancho moved to Germany at a very young age and it looks to be paying off massively in the way that he is developing. That was maybe the best decision he has made so far, to go there and play because I think he, his agent and family knew he was good enough to play, so when someone isn’t giving you a chance at one place of course you go and find somewhere to play and it was a great decision on his part, he is developing and now big teams are coming after him. I don’t know if now is the right time for him to go to Manchester United, I have mentioned it before, I have my doubts here because at United there’s Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Daniel James

It’s good to have competition for the team but I would imagine if he moves to a new place he would want to play every game, but rotation is a common thing now in football. From that point of view, you can’t guarantee a player will play, but I think we need to go with that assumption, big money and he would like to play. For me, he is going to choose the team that he knows he is going to play. Not to move and do nothing because that is going to stop his development. That’s why I think it may be better for him to stay at Dortmund for one more year, why not?

2020 05 12b Retrieve

[Berbatov added on his own experience in the Bundesliga helped him to learn how important playing week in, week out can be for morale] When I was a young player in Germany, at the same age as Sancho, my mind was only on me developing. I wasn’t thinking about transfers, I was happy at [Bayer] Leverkusen, I was playing every game and if you really love football that is what you want to do. Sancho has been there since 2017 and it’s crucial to know when is the right time to stay or go because this can sometimes can make or break a career

2020 05 16 Retrieve

[Dimitar Berbatov jokes about the rare time he had to fill in as a defender] I was like Baresi, Maldini and Beckenbauer in one!

2020 05 29 Retrieve

[Berbatov urges Solskjaer to stick with Fernandes & Pogba] There have been a lot of Premier League clubs linked with him, Arsenal, Chelsea, Newcastle and even Manchester United, but sometimes the obvious choice isn’t always the correct one. Everyone thought he would do great when he moved to Barcelona but it didn’t work out, sometimes you need to step back to go forwards, he will go to a good team there is no question about that, but he needs the trust of a manager to believe in him and make him the main man so that he can play calm and be free to do what he does. Other people will see him linked with a move to United and they will point out his connections with Liverpool and how he would never be forgiven if he switched to Old Trafford, but honestly, United don’t need him right now. Bruno Fernandes is a very similar player; he really hit the ground running and looks to be a very promising signing so I don’t think there would be any point in United signing him. Pogba is coming back, Fernandes is there, [Scott] McTominay is producing great football as well, they have enough quality there so signing Coutinho would be pointless

2020 06 03 Retrieve

[Dimitar Berbatov says Ighalo should fight for a permanent Man Utd contract after loan extension] It is great news, for club and player, that United have extended the loan of Odion Ighalo. The way he linked with the other players, his interaction with the team and everything he did was top quality for the time he was given to play. Now, Ighalo has a massive challenge ahead of him to prove that it was the right decision from the club. Now that he’s staying until 31 January 2021, why not go out there and show the club why he should stay for even longer? Why not fight for a permanent contract? He’s a great boost for the team and it puts United in a strong position

[Berbatov added on the impending resumption of top-flight English football after a three-month hiatus] It’s great news that the Premier League is going to return. It is going to happen behind closed doors, for obvious reasons, and I am curious to see how physically and mentally prepared the teams are. It will be interesting to see how long it will take for games to reach a similar level of quality, speed and intensity to how they were before the stoppage. But overall this is a great step in the right direction.

2020 06 03b Retrieve

[Dimitar Berbatov has backed Paul Pogba to inspire Manchester United towards a top-four finish] United have had a huge boost in Paul Pogba returning to fitness. It is great news for the team. The dangerous thing is that he hasn’t played for so long, so hopefully he has prepared well and he will be ready to play at 100% again. Is he going to start? I’m not too sure, coming back from a long injury may impact him starting, it will be interesting to see if Solskjaer puts him straight into the battle. I’m sure if the manager asks Pogba how he feels and if he is ready, then Paul will say ‘of course I am ready’. It will be the first time we get to see [Bruno] Fernandes and Pogba play together and it will be interesting to see if they can hit it off, they will have had the chance to get to know each other in training but that is totally different to a game. It could be a great partnership and I am sure that Pogba’s return is a massive boost and will give huge confidence to the whole team. One player doesn’t define a team, but when you have good, quality, confident players putting all their effort in to help the team then you are going to succeed

Make no mistake, this is a massive opportunity for United and they know it. Hopefully, they will be prepared for that challenge because three points are nothing, if they win their first game back and Chelsea slip up then the three points aren’t an issue anymore, it can be as easy as that. But on the other hand, if United slip up and Chelsea win it will be six points, so they also have to be careful, there can be no room for error

2020 06 09 Retrieve

[Man Utd warned off Grealish & Saul moves as Berbatov backs Pogba & Co to shine for Solskjaer] Manchester United have been linked with Saul Niguez from Atletico Madrid again, and for me looking at the situation, Pogba is back, Fernandes is there, they have [Scott] McTominay who needs to play regularly because he’s young and is doing so well, [Juan] Mata is there, [Nemanja] Matic is there who is great at what he does, and to put one more in the mix is only okay if you are going to use them and have them playing regularly because that transfer will probably cost a lot of money.

In my opinion, I think they have enough quality in the team anyway, especially with Pogba coming back, but maybe Solskjaer has a different decision and he has decided that they need someone to strengthen there. There have also been reports about United being interested in Jack Grealish, last week [Jadon] Sancho was their top target, this week it’s Grealish, next week it will be somebody else. There are so many players associated with a move to United at the moment, it is a good thing I suppose and for the players it boosts their reputation. I can see Grealish being a better fit at United than someone else, he is used to the Premier League and he is producing great goals and assists. But, he is similar to Fernandes, Pogba and Mata in a way and you don’t want too much similarity in your team. With all these names mentioned it is going to be interesting to see if they actually sign any of them or maybe nobody will go because for me they have enough midfield players. Once they have finished this season, and players are out of contract or leave, then they may need someone. But if all of them stay, and they buy two more, then they will have to let a couple go, or if players aren’t happy then they need to go to the manager and tell them they aren’t happy with all other players in the same position.

2020 06 11 Retrieve

[Berbatov unable to pick between Spurs and Man Utd as Premier League returns] Health comes first and we all understand, but you hope things come back to normal as soon as possible. We see now, slowly but surely, the Bundesliga was first, now the Premier League is coming back, I’m excited, especially that first game – Spurs vs United. The bad thing is there are no fans, but safety first. Harry Kane is back, Son [Heung-Mn] is back, Spurs are getting back their firepower, [Paul] Pogba is back for United which I think is a great, great bonus for the team. People ask me who I support in this game, and I am always ‘you have two kids, who do you love most!

I support both teams, the only thing I would like to see is good football, but as you mentioned, as we all know, the break was too big. So I’m curious as to how they handle the first game, especially for United, if they win and Chelsea lose, they’re even points for the Champions League. For Spurs it’s a bit difficult because they are seven points behind top four so if they take a win, it’s a great bonus for them. So that first game is so important for both teams. Hopefully we can watch good football

[Berbatov officially hung up his boots in 2019 at the age of 38 after distinguished career at both club and international level, but the eccentric ex-forward asserts that he knows exactly how he would have spent lockdown] Kicking a ball against the wall and stopping it. That’s the perfect exercise. You can improvise and improve. Even in tight spaces, if you have a small ball, a tennis ball, try to keep it in the air, to train that reflex, that habit of keeping the ball close to your feet. This kind of improvisation can add to your game – especially if you don’t have the best first touch

2020 06 18 Retrieve

[Mourinho deserves time to make his mark at Tottenham] I hope Spurs finish as high up as possible, seven points from the top four is a big difference, but sometimes you can make up ground and surprise people. Next season will be the decisive one for people who are judging Jose Mourinho. Sometimes a team has to take a step back to take two steps forward. I understand fans being critical after what happened to Mauricio Pochettino and the different style of play under Mourinho, but in the end this is the situation Spurs are in at the moment. Mourinho is there and he is doing his own thing and you can judge him on next season. In the end, Pochettino will probably return to Spurs one day, I heard an interview where he said he would like to go back there one day and everybody loves him there for what he did. Maybe one day he will be back, but at the moment Mourinho is there, a coach who has won so many trophies in his career, who deserves respect and time to make his mark

2020 06 18b Retrieve

It is tempting to imagine yourself in the white shirt at the Bernabeu, but you need to be really prepared for the reality. Havertz is still very young, even if he stays at Leverkusen for one more year it will be good for his development physically, technically and mentally. Madrid have a big squad with great players and it would be difficult for him to play every game in my opinion. He is definitely a player for the future but he wants to be playing now, so Leverkusen is the best place for him to develop and grow. He isn’t going to lose anything staying there, he is a starter now and playing regularly in the Bundesliga and people are taking note of him. I know Leverkusen, I know how they develop their players and the nurturing environment there. He won’t lose anything staying there for another year, it will only be beneficial for him

2020 06 18c Retrieve

[Fred is already Manchester United’s player of the season] At first, Fred had a difficult time at United, getting used to the tempo, with the speed of the games and the challenges. It’s not easy, coming from a different league, and sometimes he spent too much time on the ball and lost possession easily. Slowly but surely, however, his game has changed and he has become used to the Premier League. Fred’s improvement reminds me of how Moussa Sissoko started at Spurs, people didn’t rate him but now he’s player of the season already and the fans love him. Patience pays off and, like Sissoko, Fred is proving that he has turned it around. He isn’t getting much attention because Bruno Fernandes is still in the spotlight and Pogba is fit again, but Fred has his place there in midfield and if he is happy to not have the headlines but play regularly, I think he will take that. If you are an attacking player and you know that someone has your back, you are going to go forward freely and not be afraid to lose the ball. When you know you have Fred covering your back and you speak before the game, and have that understanding that your team-mate will be there for you, it makes it much easier as an attacking player to take risks and play those passes that can cause a lot of trouble

2020 06 24 Retrieve

[Dimitar Berbatov says Scott McTominay has all the attributes to become Manchester United’s captain in the future] I think it is a perfect time to extend Scott McTominay’s contract. I think he is developing in the right way, playing regularly and I hope they give him more time. It certainly shows that United have faith in him as a player and the club are making a statement that they are going to depend on him in the future. He’s still young and in his early 20s, so for him to see that the club are trusting him and rewarding him with a contract extension is a great day for him to celebrate. He now needs to put those celebrations aside and prove why the club have given him a extension, he needs to be even better than before, and he needs to put even more effort into his game so that he can show that he can be a regular starter. He definitely deserves a new contract, he has great confidence in the way he moves around the pitch and the way he looks for the ball

He is at the stage where he is now comfortable in his position and the way he plays football. In the beginning, he needed some game time to get used to everything but now he is fully integrated into the team at such an early age, which is great because he now has more time to play, enjoy his football and make a name for himself as a player. With his physique and the way he plays football, he looks like a future captain and leader of Manchester United to me. Now, the most important thing isn’t to relax because he has a new deal, it is the opposite, he needs to play and work even harder. He is in the right place to develop, he is surrounded by great players and the coach believes in him. How good he turns out to be only depends on him and how ambitious he is to be one of the best

2020 06 27 Retrieve

[Manchester United cannot allow Liverpool to equal their league title record and dominate again] When I was a player at Old Trafford, we thought United’s success would go on forever, Liverpool are now dangerously close to United’s record, and I’m sure they’d love to equal that. I’m not at United anymore, I can’t stop it from happening, but I hope the current players will see Liverpool getting closer and try to make sure it never happens. They suffered and waited for so long, the way they play now that the way they won it will give them more ambition to win more. Klopp can make them title contenders for years to come. The United lads shouldn’t need a message from anyone to tell them, they can’t let them equal the record and dominate again, if they do then we have a problem. They will have seen Liverpool, they will know they are close to the record and they must do everything to stop this happening. You want to be on top yourself and not let anyone take over, so they need to up their intensity. The United players cannot let Liverpool knock them off the perch that we fought so hard to take as our own