Sir Alex Ferguson has confirmed that Dimitar Berbatov's extension clause with Manchester United will be activated in the new year, with the striker an integral part of the squad despite his limited appearances for the side.

Particularly at the start of the season, Berbatov was unable to get a look in for the starting line up at Old Trafford, with Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez getting the vast majority of league starts up front.

But Ferguson continually insisted that Berbatov is a big part of United's plans, telling reporters last month: "Dimitar is still in my thoughts. I have read some things but there is absolutely no reason for me to let him go. He is an outstanding footballer and we will give him the extra year."

And now United have once again confirmed that they are set to keep Berbatov around for another year. His current contract with the Red Devils ends in the 2012 summer, but the club have the option to extend that by 12 months if they wish.

And Ferguson believes that they will do so in March, revealing today: "We'll be exercising [the option to renew]. I think it kicks in in March."

The news comes on the back of some top performances for Berbatov, with pundits claiming he may have found his scoring touch at United once more. The Bulgaria international has scored four goals in the last two matches, and adds much needed depth to the side as the season enters the business end.

United will be pushing cross-town rivals Manchester City for top spot in the Premier League table as 2012 rolls around, and Berbatov being on form will no doubt boost the squad as they prepare to face the Citizens in the FA Cup on the 8<sup>th January.

Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen admitted on Thursday that they had been in talks with United over a possible move for Berbatov.

"I'd even say contact is friendly. But nothing is concrete," Bayer chief executive Wolfgang Holzhauser said.

But now the German outfit look to be out of the race for Berbatov, with a stay at United for the next 18 months a certainty.