Manchester United interested in Newcastle sporting director Dan Ashworth

  • Sir Dave Brailsford eager to bring Newcastle director to the club
  • Brailsford and Dan Ashworth have a long-standing friendship
  • New football department will be appointed under Sir Jim Ratcliffe
Dan Ashworth of Newcastle is wanted by Sir Dave Brailsford, who will play a significant role in revamping Manchester United's structure
Dan Ashworth of Newcastle is wanted by Sir Dave Brailsford, who will play a significant role in revamping Manchester United's structure / Dan Mullan/GettyImages

Newcastle United sporting director Dan Ashworth is a target for Manchester United to head up their new footballing department under Sir Jim Ratcliffe, 90min understands.

Ratcliffe's purchase of around 25% of United will be confirmed later this month, with the intention of an official communication before Christmas. Ratcliffe will join the board whilst taking charge of the 'sporting' side of the Old Trafford operation, which was part of the agreement in purchasing an initial minority stake in the club.

As 90min revealed last month, part of the plans will see a football operations department being put in place by Ratcliffe's company INEOS. Sir Dave Brailsford is playing a significant role in the process and is currently leading an inquiry into the club's operations, identifying areas for improvement.

Brailsford, director of sport at INEOS, is one of Ratcliffe's most trusted confidants and has worked as Team Principal for their Tour de France team, the Grenadiers, while he is also working closely with their Ligue 1 outfit Nice, among others, to add to his already extensive experience in top-level sport.

It's intended that the appointment of a new chief executive officer is made following the departure of Richard Arnold, with current INEOS man and former Paris Saint-Germain director Jean-Claude Blanc on course to fill that role. Brailsford and Blanc have been at Old Trafford this week.

They will then look at a sporting director, who will head up the football department - the role in mind if Brailsford is able to convince Ashworth - with a new head of recruitment also wanted. It's understood that Paul Mitchell, formerly of Monaco, remains of interest and is a candidate to fill the latter role.

Jean-Claude Blanc, Dave Brailsford, Jim Ratcliffe
Jean-Claude Blanc, Dave Brailsford and Jim Ratcliffe in attendance at a Nice fixture / Jean Catuffe/GettyImages

Brailsford, at Ratcliffe's behest, has been undertaking an overview of the current regime and part of that has seen him highlight top-level candidates for the major roles.

Former Liverpool man Michael Edwards was being considered, but 90min understands that Ashworth in particular is someone who Brailsford would love to see brought into United.

Ashworth was linked earlier in the year after Gary Neville suggested he would be a good choice to be brought in, and the former Brighton man played down the suggestions. However, 90min understands that the interest from United is genuine.

Brailsford and Ashworth are close, with their relationship going back many years. Only last year Ashworth invited Brailsford to address his Newcastle squad after he arrived at St James' Park.

At the time Ashworth commented: "I've known Sir Dave for a number of years, working across various different sports and he is without doubt the best in world sport at creating high-performance culture and turning that into winning."

A possible role for Brailsford at United is being discussed but there is a strong chance he works with the new sporting director and CEO in a role that will see him be the day-to-day head, with Ratcliffe himself unable to be completely hands-on around the club. Ratcliffe is based in Monaco and can only spend limited time in the UK each year.