Berba: I'm still waiting for my commission!
Dimitar Berbatov has joked that he's "still waiting for his commission" after advising Manchester United on our 2015 transfer move for Anthony Martial.
The Bulgarian played with the Frenchman at Monaco between 2014-15, and received a call from United's chief scout Jim Lawlor before the Reds made an approach.
"The funny thing is, before Manchester [United] bought him, Jim Lawlor gave me a call – the head scout from Manchester," reported Berbatov in a recent episode of MUTV Group Chat.
“And he's like, 'Berba, we're watching that boy from Monaco, Martial. What do you think?'
“I was like: 'He's unbelievable, he's just needs some guidance, someone to give him the right direction.'
“Manchester took him after that, but I'm still waiting for my commission. Tell Jim that!”
Berbatov had long been a fan of the youngster, who had stood out even among a golden crop of emerging talent at the club by the French Riviera.
“When I go to Monaco, I see all these talented players – Martial, Fabinho, James Rodriguez, [Radamel] Falcao was there as well," recalled the 2009 and 2011 Premier League winner.
“First or second training session – I'm 33 at the time – and these young players are flying past me and I'm like: What the f*** is going on here?
“If you know where to look, you can see talent straight away. I saw Martial, and he had everything. Speed, tricks, power, stability, balance, you know? The only thing he didn't have was that confidence that he could beat someone.”
As an experienced striker, Berba quickly tried to fuel the young Parisian forward with that missing confidence.
“When I was in Monaco, in a five-a-side training session, I go to defend, and he was coming at me full speed,” remembers the 39-year-old. “But there is that moment in football where young players, if they face-off one-on-one against someone more experienced, that can play on their mind. So he was thinking that I can easily get the ball from him because I was more experienced, but that wasn't the case.
“I took the ball from him, but after training I was telling him, 'Anto, you're so fast and quick, you can go past me like that [clicks fingers]. Don't think [about] it too much, just go past me, because you're so incredibly fast and talented'.”
Berbatov's first-hand experience of working with Martial at Monaco would prove important.
Berbatov is delighted with the progression that Martial and fellow young forward Marcus Rashford have made, and the way they are leading the line for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's fresh, young United team.
"The way he has gone to Manchester after that and developed, for me, I love him," admitted our former no.9.
"I like to watch him play and score goals, because he's a different player. [His] imagination is high. I like him and Marcus Rashford a lot – that's why I said many times I would like to see them play more and more and more, because they are so young. The future is ahead of them."
Rashford and Martial had 35 goals between them in 2019/20 before the season was curtailed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, despite both players enduring significant spells out with injury.