Man Utd plot left-field ‘double raid’ as Sir Jim Ratcliffe blows up transfer strategy | Football | Sport

Manchester United are reportedly eyeing a swoop for Royal Antwerp duo George Ilenikhena and Mandela Keita ahead of the club’s first summer transfer window under Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s control. The Red Devils’ transfer strategy could imminently undergo a drastic change under new co-ownership in an attempt to mend a decade of inconsistent recruitment.

Since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013, United have spent more than all of their Premier League rivals, but they have failed to get close to clinching a record-extending 21st title.

It has been a clear case of quality over quantity, with Manchester City and Liverpool dominating in recent years with a lower net spend.

Ratcliffe is working to fix what has been a significant contributor to United’s downfall after his £1.3billion investment for a 27.7 per cent stake was confirmed last month.

With that, INEOS have inherited total control over all football operations from the Glazer family and are shaping a new-look sporting structure ahead of the summer.

Omar Berrada is leaving City to become chief executive, while United remain locked in compensation negotiations with Newcastle United after selecting Dan Ashworth as sporting director.

Southampton chief Jason Wilcox is also expected to join the newly established team, with one further appointment likely.

United will always be in the conversation for big-money deals to form the core of the squad and bolster the club’s monstrous marketing needs.

But reports from Belgium suggest that the Red Devils are also already courting some shrewd signings at the start of the INEOS era at Old Trafford.

Belgian football expert Sacha Tavolieri says United are keen on signing Antwerp striker Ilenikhena amid their efforts to provide Rasmus Hojlund with competition next season.

It’s claimed that there is strong interest from M16 in a summer deal for the 17-year-old, who has scored 14 goals and provided one further assist in 39 games since joining from Amiens SC last summer.

Tavolieri adds that United are, too, among the suitors eying Ilenikhena’s team-mate, Keita, who also joined last summer from OH Leuven on loan.

He has made 30 appearances for Antwerp, who have the option to make his stay permanent.

Erik ten Hag is said to see something in the 21-year-old midfielder, though, and would like to lure both players to his project.

It remains to be seen how much Antwerp would ask to part ways with the pairing. Transfermarkt value Ilenikhena at £5.9m and Keita at £9.3m.

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