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Who is Paul Mitchell? The sporting director linked to Man Utd

Jacque Talbot
Paul Mitchell
© IMAGO

Paul Mitchell was once an innocuous, generic-looking League One footballer playing in on a mudded pitch for MK Dons. Today, he is one of the most highly sought-after sporting directors in the world.

As we revealed, Man Utd have pinpointed him as their next sporting director after he left his role at Monaco.

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Mitchell did not extend his stay with Monaco past the summer, where was for three years.

READ MORE: EXCLUSIVE: Man Utd and Liverpool to battle over Paul Mitchell

Mitchell’s gardening leave has been in the pipeline for some time and now he wants a shot with Man Utd.

But who is the gruff, buzz-haired, Stalybridge-born executive and why are so many top clubs after him?

Paul Mitchell’s extraordinary Curriculum Vita

It’s been a meteoric rise. In 2010, Mitchell was named MK Dons’ first-ever head of recruitment. After a successful spell there, he joined Southampton, then in the Championship, for a job in the same role.

It was in his first campaign that the Saints got promoted to the Premier League. Mitchell began working with Mauricio Pochettino the following January, bringing fresh stars to the south coast.

Mitchell recruited the likes of Nathaniel Clyne, Maya Yoshida, Paulo Gazzaniga and Steven Davies, before joining Pochettino at Tottenham in 2014.

Mitchell signed Dele Alli and Son Heung-min for Spurs
© IMAGO – Mitchell signed Dele Alli and Son Heung-min for Spurs

Mitchell was responsible for plucking Dele Alli from MK Dons, while identifying and subsequently sealing deals for Son Heung-min, Kieran Trippier and Toby Alderweireld.

After a reported falling out with Daniel Levy, Mitchell joined RB Leipzig as their head of recruitment and development. For the Bundesliga outfit, he signed Matheus Cunha and Nordi Mukiele, and Emile Smith Rowe, who came in on loan. And he also oversaw the recruitment of Christopher Nkunku, Tyler Adams and Dani Olmo. His ability to work wonders then caught the attention of Man Utd – but he ended up switching to Monaco as their sporting director.

There, Mitchell is credited with the development of Aurelien Tchouameni, who was sold €100 million to Real Madrid last summer, and the same with Benoit Badiashile – now considered one of the most highly-rated young defenders in the game today. He moved to Chelsea in January for €37 million.

Real Madrid's Aurelien Tchouameni was another Mitchell find
© IMAGO – Real Madrid’s Aurelien Tchouameni was another Mitchell find

Mitchell puts a great onus on fitness and mobility. He likes workhorses and players who have the right character and drive, all while coming at a low cost.

In the current landscape of high spending and oversized budgets, it’s like every top Premier League side essentially nullifies each other. Recruitment must be shrewd, not just in a financial sense, but in adding to and growing a certain blueprint. Man Utd managed to bring Mitchell in, they would surely have that edge over the other sides – though where Erik ten Hag falls into all this is another matter.

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