OMAR BERRADA likes to take risks and get out of his comfort zone.
Berrada agonised for some time over leaving all-conquering Manchester City but is excited by the challenge of transforming fortunes at Old Trafford.
As challenges go, they do not come much bigger than trying to help the Red Devilscatch up with their neighbours.
City are sorry to see Berrada go because he has been a key figure on both the commercial and football side in a glittering 12-year association.
He may not be able to start his new role until next season if he has to serve a notice period.
Following his move from Barcelona to East Manchester in 2011, Berrada worked on the commercial side — notably as head of partnerships and chief operating officer.
He became chief football operations officer in 2020, working closely with Guardiola and Txiki Begiristain in putting together last term’s Treble-winning squad.
A cloud still hangs over City’s success with 115 Premier League charges surrounding sponsorship deals with the club.
If they are proven then Berrada — who was pictured celebrating with Guardiola when the Court of Arbitration for Sport overturned City’s Champions League ban in July 2020 — will have questions to answer from his new office at Old Trafford.
Presumably United do not expect much to come of it and his appointment looks shrewd.
One City source said: “He’s a very capable businessman and a good safe pair of hands.
“He’s diligent and likeable. He’s diplomatic, a good listener. Knows the landscape and is really well connected.”
Born in Paris to Moroccan parents, Berrada moved to the US and signed up for an engineering course in Massachusetts.
After a brief spell studying in Brussels, he moved to Barcelona — the home of his favourite football team.
His plan was to be there for a year — but he ended up staying a decade, taking up roles with Honda and then Tiscali.
His boss at the internet giant left for a job at the Nou Camp — and did not take long to offer Berrada a role in the club’s marketing department.
He spent the next eight years at Barca, who could more or less take their pick of sponsors due to their standing at the summit of the European game.
In 2011, he was head-hunted by a recruitment firm for a similar role at City.
Speaking to the EU Business School recently, he said: “A common theme of my career has been to take risks.
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“Being part of a journey can go well or go badly but you learn. You get to experience things.
“I was really happy at Barcelona but I wanted to go out of my comfort zone. It was only three years since the new owners had come in so City was not the club it is now.
“Something about the journey attracted me — to challenge myself in a different setting.”
He turned down a more lucrative offer from a sports agency in Switzerland as he was enjoying the challenge at the club.
Soon afterwards he became director of partnerships — and began working more closely with Soriano.
Around the time of Guardiola’s arrival in 2016 he was given the role of chief operating officer — effectively right-hand man to the chief exec.
Following Roel De Vries’ appointment in 2020, Berrada switched roles to work with director of football Begiristain.
The pair worked in tandem with former Spain winger Begiristain convincing players to join — and his sidekick closing the deal.
Berrada’s contacts book from around the football world will be impressive after four years working alongside Begiristain and Brian Marwood.
But from now on it will be United getting the benefit of his connections and know-how.
The Red Devils want him to be in place soon after Jim Ratcliffe and Ineos officially move in next month.
City will take stock before deciding whether to replace him — but Berrada’s appointment will be viewed as a major coup on the red side of town.