‘Pogba return can inspire Man Utd to top-four finish’
Dimitar Berbatov has backed Paul Pogba to inspire Manchester United towards a top-four finish after recovering from a long-term injury layoff.
Pogba has been restricted to just eight appearances for United in 2019-20, with a persistent ankle injury limiting his contribution.
The former Red Devils striker told Betfair : “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.”
Solskjaer saw his side embark on an 11-match unbeaten run before the season was called to a halt, but Berbatov says they cannot allow complacency to creep in as they bid to leapfrog Chelsea.
He added: “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.
‘Ighalo should fight for a permanent Man Utd contract’
Odion Ighalo should “fight for a permanent contract” at Manchester United after seeing his loan deal extended, according to Dimitar Berbatov.
Ighalo was due to return to his parent club Shanghai Shenhua at the end of May after a five-month stint at Old Trafford, but United were reluctant to lose a man who proved to be a surprise hit among supporters before the 2019-20 season was suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The Red Devils reached an agreement with the Chinese Super League outfit on Monday that will allow the 30-year-old to remain in Manchester through to the end of January 2021.
Ighalo, whose only previous Premier League experience came at Watford between 2015 and 2017, scored four goals in his first three starts for United after signing for the club on deadline day.
He proved himself as a more than capable backup striker in the absence of the injured Marcus Rashford, and will compete alongside the England international, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood for a place in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s line up when the Premier League resumes on June 17.
Berbatov has been impressed by the impact Ighalo has had at the Theatre of Dreams in such a short period of time, and thinks he should build on a bright start to life in Manchester by trying to convince United to sign him outright.
“It is great news, for club and player, that United have extended the loan of Odion Ighalo,” the former United centre-forward told Betfair.
“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 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.”