Dan Ashworth will cost Man Utd ‘more than Cristiano Ronaldo’ to avoid setback

Manchester United may reportedly end up paying more for prospective director of football Dan Ashworth than they did for Cristiano Ronaldo in 2021. It has been claimed that Ashworth has asked to leave Newcastle to join the Red Devils, with the Premier League clubs now set to negotiate a major fee.

Ashworth is one of the Premier League’s most respected sporting directors. He was key to the implementation of the Elite Player Performance Plan in a similar role at the Football Association, and has also worked at West Brom and Brighton.

The 52-year-old has been identified as a major recruit by INEOS. Sir Jim Ratcliffe has had his investment ratified by the Premier League and the FA, and will formally begin work in the coming days.

As part of the British billionaire’s investment in United, his petrochemicals giant INEOS will take control of the sporting operation at Old Trafford. They are keen to build a team of the best brains in world football.

But the Daily Telegraph claims that United might need to pay a whopping £20m to prise Ashworth out of St. James’ Park. It is a fee more lucrative than the £19m paid to re-sign Ronaldo from Juventus in 2021 and would effectively place Ashworth in the top 40 most expensive signings at Old Trafford.

Newcastle have always maintained that they are well protected if their sporting director were to leave. It is claimed that Ashworth has a gardening leave clause of two years, meaning United will need to wait until 2026 if they do not offer a suitable compensation fee to Newcastle.

INEOS are already set to welcome Omar Berrada as CEO later this year. In a major coup, Berrada is joining from Manchester City where he held a similar position within the City Football Group.

United have also been linked with Southampton sporting director Jason Wilcox as Ratcliffe pieces together a revamped sporting structure. Wilcox joined the Saints from City in January 2022.

The former Blackburn winger was academy director at City before taking on a more senior role at Southampton. Head coach Russell Martin is desperate to keep Wilcox at the club.

“I hope it’s people putting two and two together and coming up with five. I’ve got a lot of respect for Jason and it’s no surprise someone would be interested in working with him,” Martin said last week.

“He’s so open and honest. I hope he would have a chat with us first [if an offer is made]. I have nothing but good things to say about him.”

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