Dimitar Berbatov: With Pogba back United can finish in the top four

Paul Pogba playing for Manchester United
Paul Pogba should be fit to play for Manchester United this month

Betfair Ambassador Dimitar Berbatov says Paul Pogba and Harry Kane can make a big impact for their clubs when the Premier League returns this month...

"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."

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.

I would expect that it to be quite a slow start. But there could be some surprises and some teams, like Liverpool, could resume the way the came into the break. It will be a challenge and maybe it will be a slow start but I would like to be proved wrong because we all like to see the quality of the Premier League. With no fans, even with the intensity of the Premier League, it may be like watching a friendly or a training session, similar to the way some of the matches in the Bundelsiga have felt.

Motivation is key for teams at top and bottom

Motivation will be a key factor in the Premier League's return, especially for the teams that are fighting for something like avoiding relegation or qualification for the Champions League. The teams that are comfortable in mid-table might not push so much, which isn't a good thing to do but sometimes you can't help it.

If I was playing now, my main objective between now and the end of the season would be to help the team achieve their goals. In the case of Manchester United, it would be help the team to finish in the top four, so I would focus all my efforts on getting United into those Champions League spots.

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How would I do that? By scoring goals, linking with my team mates and creating opportunities for them. When I put my focus into helping the team succeed, I know that I will also benefit personally from that by scoring goals and making assists. I'm sure most players will have similar targets, but that is what I would be thinking about if I was still playing and in this situation.

Injuries are another thing that people will be cautious about, this is a critical moment and there is a fine line in these kinds of games. Sometimes if you go about it and you aren't serious and think nothing will go wrong then you are risking an injury, but if you are serious enough and you are physically and mentally prepared, which I'm sure most of the teams are, then you will go in the right directions. The players in Germany have been really taking this seriously and there haven't been any major injuries, they know how to handle this situation and teams in the Premier League can learn from that.

United can get into the top four

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.

Pogba's return will give the team a huge boost

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.'

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It will be the first time we get to see 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.

Ighalo has earned an extension - now he must play for a permanent contract

It is also great news, for club and player, 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.

Kane will give Spurs the lift they need

I have been watching Harry Kane's recovery, he's been training individually and I saw him doing some work on his shooting and have been impressed. He is ready, which is great news for Spurs and not so good news for the rest of the league.

Spurs are seven points off the top four which is big but not so big at the same time. They are a serious team, especially with Kane coming back, so I will expect them to put up a good fight to try and close the gap on the top four, they will need some results to go their way, but first of all they need to do their own job to put them in a strong position should teams slip up.

Don't underestimate Heung Min-Son's military achievement

Heung Min-Son has had a slightly different preparation with his national service in South Korea which is an amazing experience for him and he is now trained to handle dangerous situations, so he is probably even better than before.


I think his military training will be so beneficial, it may sound strange but I think it will be really good for him and to be one of the best in his group is incredible. Now that he his also back along withKane, Spurs have got some real power back and they can be a threat.

Hazard's chance to prove himself in La Liga

Eden Hazard has been at Real Madrid for almost a year now he needs to produce some big games because he has a point to prove. He will know it, his team mates will know it and everyone will know it. He needs big performances like what he was producing at Chelsea, running at players, goals, assists and a return of that confidence.

He has been unlucky with his injuries, so if he can stay fit I think we will say the same Hazard that we saw before. He will make a massive difference for Real Madrid, the title is between them and Barcelona and they have a great chance, especially with a fully fit Hazard.

One player they will be without is Luka Jovic, who is injured and it looks like he won't be fit until the end of the season. The Serbian striker has been unlucky and hasn't produced what everyone thought he would. At Frankfurt he was great, but it hasn't happened for him at Real Madrid.

Jovic is an investment for the future anyway. We Balkans like to do things differently at times and I really hope that he can stay focused and concentrate on what is most important for him - getting fit and showing that Real Madrid were right to spend the money on him. I know he is in a difficult situation, physically he is injured and mentally that will be tough, but he should stay positive and think about how he is going to produce good games for his club next season and focus on staying fit.

Real Madrid still have an important match in the Champions League against Manchester City to come. City lead 2-1 from the first leg but, looking at the players that both teams have, I still think the tie is delicately poised. Madrid might benefit from returning to La Liga matches sooner than City get underway again in the Premier League.

Bayern Munich should have an advantage in the Champions League because they have been playing for three weeks. But sometimes in football games, especially in the Champions League, it's not about how long you have been playing for, it's more about your confidence and concentration, so it will probably come down to who is the most prepared.

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