Manchester United need to find “a ball-playing centre-half” in January, says Dimitar Berbatov, with it imperative that Jose Mourinho lands reinforcements in an area prioritised for some time.
The Red Devils had been hoping to bolster their ranks in that department over the summer, with several top targets identified – such as Toby Alderweireld and Harry Maguire.
They were, however, to be left empty-handed and have had to make do with rotation between Chris Smalling, Eric Bailly, Phil Jones and Victor Lindelof.
Those ranks have been further depleted by an untimely injury to Lindelof and Berbatov hopes that setback will convince the United board that they need to act now.
The former Red Devils striker told Betfair: “The January transfer window is approaching and I'd like to see Jose bring a ball-playing centre-half to Old Trafford.
“United lost Victor Lindelof for some time after suffering an injury against Crystal Palace and that will be a loss as Jose had shown plenty of faith in him this season. The Swedish defender had played in every Premier League game but one so far this campaign.
“For me, United need to sign someone with calmness on the ball, who can feed the midfield and carry the ball out. In modern football you need to play the ball out from the back and United have been missing that a bit.”
Mourinho will be desperate to see funds made available, with a quiet summer of recruitment considered to be partly responsible for the struggles endured at Old Trafford this season.
Pressure and frustration has been in plentiful supply throughout 2018-19, with a passionate response from the United boss to Marouane Fellaini’s dramatic winner in a Champions League clash with Young Boys considered to be a release of emotion that has been bottled up for some time.
“For me, those reactions are coming from the tension and stress around the team, and the criticism Mourinho is taking right now,” said Berbatov.
“Of course that is going to affect the manager. It can't be easy to get criticised from all sides and, from time to time, that pressure must show.
“And from a player's point of view it's not good. You are going to see it either during or after the game, or someone's going to tell you about it or ask about it, and you are not going to feel good.”
Berbatov added, with Mourinho having been caught on camera shaking his head after Marcus Rashford spurned a chance against Young Boys: “Every coach has their own philosophy for getting the best out of players and sometimes these can seem strange to the public. Mourinho is a winner, we know this, and maybe this is his way of motivating.
“People are always looking for controversy but I don't like to pay too much attention to stuff like this. For me, this is one for the team to deal with.
“When Jose destroyed the water tray that was a massive release of the stress that has built up.”