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Man Utd ‘lock in on ex-Liverpool chief’ after INEOS rejected by first-choice candidate | Football | Sport

Sir Jim Ratcliffe looks set to face disappointment in his efforts to lure Newcastle United sporting director Dan Ashworth to Manchester United, according to reports. It may pave the way for former Liverpool chief Julian Ward to land at Old Trafford amid an audit carried out by Sir Dave Brailsford.

Ashworth had reportedly emerged as Ratcliffe’s preferred candidate to replace John Murtough as United’s sporting director once the Premier League ratified his £1.3billion deal for a 25 per cent stake in the club.

However, according to the Independent, the 52-year-old is currently reluctant to leave his important role at St James’ Park while INEOS’ sporting overhaul plans aren’t defined.

The report claims that United would have to offer Ashworth a significant financial package and detailed terms to tempt him to leave Newcastle.

Former Tottenham Hotspur executive Paul Mitchell, back living in Manchester with his family after leaving AS Monaco last year, is said to be a strong contender for the sporting director or head of recruitment role.

Ex-Liverpool chief Michael Edwards is also of interest, although he, like Ashworth, is reluctant to return to club football for anything lower than a £10m annual salary.

It’s claimed that likely chief executive elect Jean-Claude Blanc will have the final say on the two planned appointments.

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But Brailsford, who is overseeing the eight-week-long review into operations at Old Trafford, has allegedly identified Edwards’ former Anfield colleague Ward as his top choice.

Ward reportedly shocked and disappointed Liverpool when he announced his decision to leave the club in November 2022, just months after replacing Edwards as the Reds’ sporting director.

He departed Merseyside at the end of last season but is being lined up for a return at United. His interest in a role at Old Trafford remains to be seen.

The report adds that Brailsford’s review, which will kick into gear once the Premier League ratifies Ratcliffe’s £1.3bn investment, will look to understand the ‘performance challenge’ that lies ahead.

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