Man Utd make Ashworth approach
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Man Utd make Ashworth approach

Feb 20, 2024
Dan Ashworth
Dan Ashworth became Newcastle’s sporting director in 2022

Manchester United have made an official approach to Newcastle for their sporting director Dan Ashworth.

The Red Devils have made Ashworth a key target as the Ineos Group look to revolutionise the club’s structures.

Earlier on Monday, Newcastle confirmed Ashworth had been placed on gardening leave after requesting his release.

Manchester United believe they are in a strong negotiating position as Newcastle will have to pay the 52-year-old during his leave.

However, Newcastle feel they are also in a strong position, given how keen Manchester United are to bring in the man widely acknowledged as one of football’s most effective sporting directors.

The Magpies have Ashworth under a contract that prevents him from working for anyone else into 2025 unless compensation is agreed.

They believe they will be within their rights to ask Manchester United for a fee well in excess of £10m.

The Old Trafford outfit, on the other hand, are determined they will not be forced to overpay.

Darren Eales, Newcastle United’s chief executive, said: “We are naturally disappointed that Dan has chosen to leave. However, our exciting journey doesn’t stop and the process to recruit a new sporting director will begin immediately.

“We thank Dan for his efforts at Newcastle United and we wish him and his family well for the future.”

Although Ashworth is highly regarded, there have been some suggestions from St James’ Park he is at least partly responsible for the £55m signing of Italy midfielder Sandro Tonali from AC Milan in July.

Tonali made just 12 appearances for Newcastle before he was banned for 10 months after breaching gambling regulations in Italy, meaning he will be unable to play until August.

If Ineos, whose 25% ownership of Manchester United is set to be confirmed this week, do agree a deal for Ashworth, then it would be another significant move by them.

It is understood Ashworth is keen on a move to Old Trafford, having established a relationship with Ineos head of sport Sir Dave Brailsford during his time in a previous role at the Football Association.

Ashworth was credited with England’s success at youth level in 2017, when they won both the Under-17 and Under-20 World Cups.

He then helped to shape Brighton’s rise up the Premier League through the appointment of Graham Potter as manager after Chris Hughton was sacked.

Ashworth served a period of leave when he left Brighton before joining Newcastle in 2022.

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