Manchester United set to intensify efforts to sign Dan Ashworth – Man United News And Transfer News

Manchester United set to intensify efforts to sign Dan Ashworth – Man United News And Transfer News

Manchester United are “stepping up talks” with Newcastle to try and find a breakthrough with the Tyneside club over director Dan Ashworth relocating to Old Trafford.

United approached Ashworth with an offer to become the club’s new sporting director in February, which the 53-year-old relayed to Newcastle officials, before communicating his intention to accept the proposal.

In response, Newcastle immediately placed the 53-year-old executive on gardening leave, blocking his access to the club’s computer system and scouting reports. These moves essentially severed his ties with his club, but Newcastle were unwilling to let their director move without a considerable compensatory fee.

Ashworth’s contract at St James’ Park gives Newcastle a strong negotiating position, given his gardening leave could last as long as January 2026 if the Tyneside club dig their heels in, as they have privately communicated their intention to do so.

Consequently, Newcastle are demanding a fee in the region of £20 million from United to circumvent this notice period by appointing Ashworth now – an unprecedented fee for an executive figure. Old Trafford officials are believed to be willing to pay around less than half of this fee.

The INEOS Sport team – who have gained full control over the sporting operation at United following ratification of Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s minority stake ownership bid – have designated Ashworth as their first-choice target for the sporting director role.

They are conducting a comprehensive audit of the processes and structures at Old Trafford, led by Sir Dave Brailsford – the INEOS Sport director. However, the first stage of their revolution at the club is the installation of a ‘best-in-class’ executive structure. Only once this team is in place, will they turn their attention to the coaching staff and senior squad.

Omar Berrada has been poached from Manchester City to be the club’s new chief executive – a move sources describe as a potential “game-changer” – while Dougie Freedman (Crystal Palace) and Jason Wilcox (Southampton) are also mooted as further additions.

INEOS want Ashworth to be the sporting director – a position United have been in desperate need of competent leadership in since David Gill retired alongside Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013.

The 53-year-old was even recommended to the club by the legendary Scot back in 2022, though United’s executive did not heed this salient advice, and Ashworth instead joined Newcastle from Brighton & Hove Albion.

INEOS appear adamant they will not allow this mistake to be repeated this time around.

A report by HITC contends sources have revealed United’s new owners “want a deal in place that will allow Ashworth to be behind his Old Trafford desk by the summer.”

In an effort to break the deadlock with their counterparts on Tyneside, United have “stepped up talks” to try and “finalise an agreement before the end of the season.

The report also reveals Newcastle are actively pursuing Ashworth’s replacement, with Phil Giles (Brentford) and Rui Pedro Baz (Benfica) figures of interest, further indicating the likelihood of a deal being struck between the two Premier League rivals.

The Magpies will have to be wary, however, of the manner in which they handle Ashworth’s exit; as if they continue to behave in an obtuse, almost petulant manner, they may risk alienating new recruits, concerned they will be subject to similar treatment to their predecessor should they ever wish to leave Tyneside.

Newcastle are also feeling the acute pressure of financial fair play regulations, having been willing to sell several of Eddie Howe’s key players in January in order to balance the books. As such, a hefty fee for a staff member would be a welcome boost ahead of an important summer window for the club.

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