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

 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.