Former Manchester United striker Dimitar Berbatov believes Napoli’s Victor Osimhen is the right player to become the club’s next first choice striker.
United are attempting to seal a place in the Premier League‘s top four ahead of the likes of Liverpool and Brighton and Hove Albion, and need to win their final three games to ensure they finish ahead of both and qualify for next season’s Champions League.
Goalscoring has been a challenge for Erik ten Hag’s United for the duration of the season, with the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo in November and struggling to put Anthony Martial on the pitch due to fitness and injury problems. Wout Weghorst was signed on loan in January, but has only scored twice since joining.
Neither of those goals have come in the league though, and United have only mustered 51 goals in 35 games – the number well below the teams around them.
Speaking exclusively to 90min on behalf of Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Berbatov insisted that United need to get their next acquisition right at centre forward, and makes Nigerian striker Osimhen his top choice ahead of Tottenham’s Harry Kane.
“Someone who can bring goals [is what United need]. Obviously the job of the striker nowadays has changed a little bit, but the main thing remains – strikers need to score goals,” Berbatov said.
“[Wout] Weghorst, he’s doing fantastic in the defensive type of work, running his socks off, chasing people, making tackles inside the box, defending from the front. But he doesn’t score goals and people are judging him on that.
“When United buy a striker, he needs to be someone that you say ‘this is the guy who is going to give you 20-plus goals’.
“I think that striker can be Victor Osimhen from Napoli. I think he’s fantastic – from the way he’s scoring, to how he’s scoring and the speed he has. If United are going for striking options, the first name on my list will be Osimhen.”
90min understands that Osimhen and Kane feature on a shortlist of United‘s primary options for the summer, though the club are still weighing up whether to sign a cheaper, alternative option with potential to develop into the finished product under Ten Hag’s coaching. Decisions have not yet been made as United wait to confirm their position in the top four, while the club’s ownership issues are yet to be resolved.
However, Berbatov, who himself moved from Tottenham to Old Trafford in 2008 after United spent weeks negotiating with Spurs chairman Daniel Levy, has doubts about how easy a deal signing Kane will be for United, while he has also questioned whether Kane will want to leave his boyhood club anyway.
“In the summer, we’re probably going to be witnessing again that type of saga – Kane going somewhere? A TV soap opera,” he added.
Whichever striker United sign, they are set to be flanked by the prodigious Alejandro Garnacho, who recently signed a new contract with the club until 2028. The Argentinian marked his comeback from injury on Saturday afternoon with an injury time goal against Wolves, and Berbatov admitted the 18-year-old is going in the right direction.
“I think he’s in the right place, at the right time – the future looks bright for him. When a youngster goes to the first team and starts producing, he should be left alone to just play football – don’t pay too much attention to him in a way. Media don’t need to create articles on him about how good he is – no comparisons to Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo, just leave him be.
“Erik ten Hag you can see is counting on him, putting him in to play when he thinks is the right time to put him in to play. And he delivers.
“The goal he scored against Wolves was a well composed goal, going into the space, getting the ball with the defender chasing him, but he was very composed and knew exactly where to put the ball. If he stays on the right path he’s going to be okay.”
Garnacho’s return is set to aid United’s bid of reaching the top four, with games remaining against Bournemouth, Chelsea and Fulham before an FA Cup final meeting with Manchester City at the start of June. Berbatov hinted that the games to come with make or break the season, with only fine margins separating whether the club have a successful season or ultimately fall short.
“If they get top four and they manage to win the FA Cup – they have already won one trophy this year – then that would be that would be a good season, even a great season. If they don’t win the FA Cup and manage top four now, that’ll be an okay season, but missing top four and not winning the FA Cup would be a bad season.
“I always put United in my book to keep high standards, you know, that’s why maybe from time to time I want to go and say my opinion that United should always fight on all fronts. But it’s always difficult because the Premier League has not been won since Sir Alex Ferguson’s last season. But it’s still United, and they need to to be fighting for every possible trophy.
“And I was disappointed, to be honest, when they didn’t qualify for the for the semi-finals of the UEFA Europa League. I was expecting [Berbatov’s former club] Bayer Leverkusen and United to play together In the final. That would have been great.”