Newcastle ‘close in’ on ‘top target’ to replace Man Utd-bound Ashworth after ‘dramatic twist’

Lewis Oldham
Man Utd Dan Ashworth
Dan Ashworth remains in limbo between Newcastle and Man Utd.

According to reports, Newcastle United are ‘closing in’ on their ‘top target’ to replace Manchester United-bound Dan Ashworth.

Ashworth was targeted by Newcastle following PIF’s takeover of the Premier League club and he left Brighton to head to St James’ Park in 2022.

The 53-year-old is regarded as one of the leading sporting directors. Newcastle did well to land him, but his spell at St James’ Park will be short amid interest from Man Utd.

He is understood to have a close relationship with new Man Utd co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe, who wants him to be their new sporting director.

Since completing his purchase of a 27.7% minority stake in Man Utd, Ratcliffe has been working tirelessly behind the scenes to overhaul their recruitment model.

Chief executive Omar Berrada and technical director Jason Wilcox have already been recruited, but their pursuit of Ashworth has been more difficult.

Man Utd, Newcastle impasse…

Ashworth was placed on gardening leave by Newcastle after he made it clear that he wanted to join Man Utd, but he is under contract until 2026 and they are demanding £20m for his services.

Up to now, Man Utd have not come close to matching Newcastle’s asking price and it’s been revealed that Ashworth is taking the Magpies to arbitration to force through a move to Old Trafford. 

It is only a matter of time before Ashworth joins Man Utd so Newcastle need to find a suitable replacement.

PIF initially had their eyes on Crystal Palace chief Dougie Freedman, who has been their sporting director since 2017.

Freedman has also been linked with Man Utd in recent months as he has worked wonders at Selhurst Park to identify Michael Olise, Eberechi Eze, Adam Wharton and Marc Guehi as signings for low fees. The four players are attracting interest from elsewhere heading into the summer and could cost over £200m combined.

The 49-year-old also played a key role in talks with head coach Oliver Glasner, who has done a wonderful job since replacing Roy Hodgson at Selhurst Park.

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Sadly for Newcastle, they have been ‘rejected’ by Freedman, who has opted to commit his future to Crystal Palace.

According to Football Insider, this ‘dramatic twist’ has seen ‘Johannes Spors emerge as the top target’ to replace Ashworth and Newcastle are ‘closing in’.

‘Newcastle are now keen to finalise the appointment as soon as possible, with the transfer window set to open soon ahead of a busy summer at St James’ Park.

‘While Freedman had emerged as the first choice for the role before a late change of heart, Spors remains highly rated by decision-makers at Newcastle.’

The 41-year-old has previously been a scout for RB Leipzig and Hoffenheim, while he had a stint as technical director at Vitesse.

Since 2022, he has been the sporting director of 777 Group. He works with Genoa, Melbourne FC, Standard Liege, Red Star Belgrade and Vasco de Gama.

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