Michael Owen deal looks bad news for Dimitar Berbatov

Sir Alex Ferguson appears to have nudged Dimitar Berbatov closer to the Manchester United exit door after handing Michael Owen a new one-year contract.

It was widely assumed Owen would leave Old Trafford this summer after making only 17 appearances this term, which yielded five goals.

Instead, Ferguson values the 31-year-old's contribution enough to reward him with an additional season.

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Javier Hernandez and Wayne Rooney have already established themselves as a potent striking partnership and Danny Welbeck is due to return from Sunderland, having performed well enough on Wearside to gain his first England cap, so Ferguson already has plenty of striking options at his disposal.

In addition, it is anticipated the United manager will add to his reserves of strength by making at least one additional signing in the striking department.

If a new face does come in, it is difficult to see where there would be room for Berbatov, who was left devastated by his omission from United's Champions League final squad at the weekend.

"Michael has proved to be a top footballer," said Ferguson yesterday. "It is unfortunate that he did not get more opportunities but the form of Chicharito (Hernandez) put everyone in the shade and his partnership with Rooney proved invaluable. I am delighted Michael is staying for a further year."

That will suit Owen, who finally has a Premier League title medal to go with the collection of cup competitions he amassed at Liverpool. "I can't wait for next season to start," he said.

Berbatov is saying much the same. However, it is debatable whether the private thoughts of this most thoughtful of characters match the bullish rhetoric he came out with on his return home.

"It was embarrassing for me - that I was not included in the group," Berbatov told Bulgarian newspaper 24 Chassa. "I was in the dressing room. I watched the final from there. I didn't want people to see the pain in my eyes."