Dimitar Berbatov has said he believes Manchester United will go in search of another striker this summer but has declared that he has no intentions of leaving of Old Trafford because he will not find a better club.
Berbatov has announced his decision from to retire from international football and amid a candid appraisal of two years at United in which he has managed only 26 goals, has insisted that he has had no conversations with Milan or Bayern Munich, who reportedly have an interest in him.
"I'm sure United will buy a new striker, but I am there and that's important," the 29-year-old said. "I will try to fulfil my contract because where would I go after United? I have reached the top with them. I do not know about interest from other clubs and I have had no meetings because I am a Manchester United player. In my two years, things could have been better, but they could have been worse too. I have had my moments."
The Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema, for whom United agreed a £35m fee 12 months ago only for a deal to fall through because of the Frenchman's wage demands, may be a target for them again.
Berbatov's languid approach to the game and visible discontent with team-mates on the pitch have invited criticism from United fans. His failure to deliver when Wayne Rooney was injured last month also raised the most searching questions yet about his future at the club. The United assistant manager Mike Phelan recently admitted that getting the best out of Berbatov could be a challenge. But the striker was indignant about his on-pitch demeanour. "I might not seem happy, but I can't grin like an idiot on the field. I do not show any emotions, but I'm really happy because I am with the biggest team in the world."
Berbatov may need a knee operation this summer to remove some muscular debris which has been troubling him since before the turn of the year and his fitness levels have contributed to him quitting the international scene, where he overtook Hristo Bonev as Bulgaria's all-time leading scorer in November when he got his 48th goal in a friendly against Malta. His relationship with his national side has also been turbulent, with Berbatov having been heavily criticised for his performances by the vice-president of the Bulgarian Football Association, Yordan Lechkov, in 2008.
"I didn't discuss my decision with Sir Alex [Ferguson], but you know when to say 'enough' and I have had ailments for several months," Berbatov added. His decision is a blow for the Bulgaria coach Stanimir Stoilov and means he will not face England in September's 2012 European Championship qualifier. Berbatov's focus is on United, though. "I have won the championship and the Carling Cup, but people had great expectations for the money it cost to sign me," he said. "We do not know what will happen in the third year."