Dimitar Berbatov: If Romelu Lukaku leaves, Man United must replace him
Former Red Devils striker Berbatov says Solskjaer needs a mix of youth and experience up front
With less than three weeks to go before Manchester United's Aug 11 season opener against Chelsea, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could have just three recognised senior strikers at his disposal.
Marcus Rashford, 21, Anthony Martial, 23, and an out-of-sorts Alexis Sanchez, 30, combined for just 27 goals in all competitions for the Red Devils last season - fewer than Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Sergio Aguero's individual tallies.
United's other senior striker, Romelu Lukaku - who had his worst scoring season since 2011/12 with 15 goals - has been heavily linked with Inter Milan.
Last Friday, Inter coach Antonio Conte expressed his interest in the Belgian, who has yet to feature in any of the Red Devils' three pre-season matches.
United's other forward is 17-year-old Mason Greenwood, who scored in last Saturday's 1-0 International Champions Cup (ICC) win over Inter.
The situation is in stark contrast to United's 2008/09 English Premier League-winning season, when they had the luxury of calling on Wayne Rooney, Carlos Tevez, Cristiano Ronaldo and Dimitar Berbatov as forward options.
One of the quartet, 38-year-old Berbatov told The New Paper that United need to have both youth and experience up front, while speaking last Friday at a media engagement lunch arranged by the Singapore Sports Hub, where the ICC was held.
When asked if the Red Devils can mount a serious title challenge relying primarily on Rashford and Martial up front, Berbatov said: "They need a mix (of both young and experienced strikers).
"Young strikers need time to develop.
"I like both Rashford and Martial... they're quick, strong and have good technique.
"But they have a long way to go to develop into being a complete striker.
"I think Lukaku is a good player who should stay. The team can use his strength and the criticism he gets is not good.
"I don't want him to leave but if he goes, then yes, United need someone more experienced (up front)."
The prime candidate to lead the line, Rashford, netted 13 goals in 47 appearances for United last season.
Berbatov believes the Englishman can improve on that tally, if he works on the mental side of his game.
Said the Bulgarian: "His finishing must improve. Sometimes, I feel that he rushes it.
"That's the only thing. Composure.
"But he has the best guy to improve under and learn from in Ole, who was one of the best finishers in his time. If you have a question, you can go to the coach and he will help them.
"Finishing, movements off the ball... these little things will help."
It has been almost seven years since Berbatov, who also played for Tottenham Hotspur, donned United's kit , but it was clear to see from his animated responses during the interview that his affection for the Red Devils still burns bright.
And it shone through again when Berbatov was asked what he thought of United's links to Leicester City centre-back Harry Maguire.
Berbatov said: "Maguire will be a good signing for us. He is a very intelligent player.
"Someone who can hold the ball under pressure and dribble out and start the play from the back, unlike some defenders who just clear the ball when in danger.
"We will see who stays and goes. Other teams are getting stronger, but we need to be back where we belong."