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Aug 11, 2008

Fergie keeps options open in hunt for striker

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has confirmed that he wants to sign a striker before the start of the Premier League season and insists he is looking at targets other than Tottenham's Dimitar Berbatov. The Red Devils have long been linked with a swoop for the Bulgarian front man, but Spurs chairman Daniel Levy has slapped a £30million price tag on his want-away star and has reported United to the Premier League over their pursuit of the striker.

Relations between the two clubs have sunk so low that Levy claims he would rather sell Berbatov to another club, such as Barcelona, for less money than to see Berbatov head to Old Trafford.

Following Sunday's penalty shoot-out victory against Portsmouth in the Community Shield, in which United failed to score in regular time, Ferguson confirmed he is keeping his options open as he scours the market for a new striker.

'There's nothing more to say on Berbatov. We're looking at options elsewhere,' the United manager said. 'It's possible we'll sign someone this week.'

'We'd like to add to our squad and are making moves in that direction. It's been a pressing issue since the end of last season. We always look to operate with four strikers and aren't able to do it [at the moment].'

With strike duo Wayne Rooney and Louis Saha out injured and last season's 42-goal hero Ronaldo also sidelined it is no surprise that United have been linked with a number of star players, including a shock move for former Arsenal skipper Thierry Henry.

When asked about a possible transfer deal for the Barcelona forward Ferguson refused to rule out a move and simply stated: 'There is a name every day.'

It is possible Man United are just using their links with other strikers to force Tottenham to lower their asking price for Berbatov; but if the Bulgarian international does remain at White Hart Lane there are plenty of other options for the Red Devils.

Blackburn Rovers striker Roque Santa Cruz has longed been linked with a move to Old Trafford in the UK press and was a revelation in his first season, scoring 23 goals following his £3.8million move from Bayern Munich.

The Paraguay striker, who is particularly strong in the air, would be one of the cheaper options available to Ferguson and is proven in the Premier League. The 26-year-old is also good friends with former Bayern team-mate Owen Hargreaves.

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar has been one of the most talked-about names in Dutch football for a number of years and has an impressive scoring record - netting 70 goals in 80 games for his current club, Ajax.

The 24-year-old has just been named captain of the Amsterdam club and is also hoping to be first choice for Holland following the retirement of Ruud van Nistelrooy. Ferguson has had great success raiding the Dutch league for top talent, with Van Nistelrooy, defender Jaap Stam and current goalkeeper Edwin Van Der Sar becoming big hits at Old Trafford.

Huntelaar could be tempted by Champions League football after Ajax failed to qualify and he has also refused to sign a new contract with a £20million release clause.

Meanwhile, Valencia striker David Villa is a proven goalscorer in Spain and one of the hottest properties in Europe after finishing as top scorer in Euro 2008. He has also been linked with Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool as well as Real Madrid and Barcelona, and the 26-year-old has made it clear he would rather stay in Spain.

However, Villa would complete a formidable quartet with Ronaldo, Rooney and Carlos Tevez, but the possibility of him joining United appears remote.

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