Ratcliffe personally intervenes in Newcastle ‘impasse’ to hold £15m talks with ‘key decision-maker’

Matt Stead
Manchester United co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe with the Newcastle badge
Sir Jim Ratcliffe has had enough of Newcastle messing about

Sir Jim Ratcliffe has personally intervened to try and settle the “completely absurd” dispute between Manchester United and Newcastle over Dan Ashworth.

Newcastle placed Ashworth on gardening leave after Manchester United formalised their approach for the sporting director, who informed the Magpies of his wish to leave.

His contract at St James’ Park has more than two years left to run but unless Manchester United offer a sufficient compensation package – thought to be around £15m – Ashworth will be forced to serve it instead of joining Ratcliffe’s planned revamp of the Old Trafford recruitment department.

Ratcliffe has spoken publicly on the matter, calling it “completely absurd” that the 53-year-old might have to “sit in his garden for one and a half years,” and comparing the situation negatively to the “very grown-up conversation” they had with Manchester City before bringing in Omar Berrada.

READ MOREMan Utd won’t pay for Dan Ashworth? He’ll cost a quarter of an Antony…

“We have had words with Newcastle who would be disappointed,” Ratcliffe said. “They have done really well since their new ownership. I understand why they would be disappointed but then you can’t criticise Dan because it’s a transient industry.

“You can understand why Dan would be interested because it’s the ultimate challenge. We’ll have to see how it unfolds.

“Recruitment in the modern game is critical. Manchester United have clearly spent a lot of money but they haven’t done as well as some other clubs.

“So when I was talking about being best in class in all aspects of football, recruitment is clearly top of the list.

“We have to ensure that the right people end up in the right positions at Man United. Every person in management must be world class.

“We need to create positive, supportive, friendly, quality environment. This culture was lacking before.”

But The Times say more amicable and constructive discussions have been held behind the scenes between Ratcliffe and Newcastle in the hope of finding a solution.

Matt Lawton reports that ‘face-to-face talks’ took place ‘within the past week’ with ‘key decision-maker’ Amanda Staveley and will carry on ‘in a bid to agree a deal’.

Manchester United hope the ‘direct intervention of Ratcliffe,’ combined with the recent departure of dismal football director John Murtough, ‘is an indication that progress is at least being made’.

READ MORE: Ashworth tantrum and four other red flags from Ratcliffe’s cosy press-pack chat

It is reported that Ratcliffe ‘wants to imitate’ Real Madrid by targeting two young Brazilian players.

Plenty of players are being linked with a move to United and a report from Spanish outlet Fichajes stated that Ratcliffe is looking at Wolves’ Joao Gomes, Fluminense midfielder Andre, and AC Milan attacker Rafael Leao.

Interest in Gomes has been spoken about for a while now, so they are likely to be genuinely keen on signing him from his Premier League rivals.

Reports linking Andre to Old Trafford are relatively new, though, and Leao has barely been linked but is more realistic than Real Madrid superstar Vinicius Junior, who is reportedly being looked at with Kylian Mbappe set to join Los Blancos.