According to reports, Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s imminent arrival is the “biggest threat” to Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag, who is under increasing pressure.
The INEOS chief is set to purchase a 25% stake in Man Utd for around £1.3bn. He will take control of footballing matters right away and changes are already being made behind the scenes.
Chief executive Richard Arnold will leave the club before the end of the year and he is expected to be joined by director of football John Murtough.
Crystal Palace’s Dougie Freedman and Paul Mitchell have been mentioned as potential replacements for Murtough but they are also being linked with AC Milan icon Paolo Maldini.
The 55-year-old has now admitted that he would “evaluate offers” from “high-level foreign teams”.
“For my job, the alternatives to Milan are very limited,” Maldini told La Repubblica. “I could never go to another Italian team, possibly I would only evaluate the offer of a high-level foreign team. I like winning and building.
“Saudi Arabia could be a stimulating option, who knows?”
Ten Hag could also be replaced before the end of this season as Man Utd have endured a rough start to this season. Their form in the Premier League has picked up of late but they are likely to exit the Champions League at the group stage.
Man Utd reporter Chris Wheeler has explained why he thinks Ratcliffe is the “biggest threat” to Ten Hag.
“For me, Erik ten Hag, I think the biggest danger for him now is Sir Jim Ratcliffe,” Wheeler said via The Daily Mail’s It’s All Kicking Off podcast.
“I think that while the current regime is in place, they are the people that employed him and his coaching staff and brought the players in for him. They’ve backed him to the hilt. They would obviously love for him to go and succeed.
“Ratcliffe comes in with no agenda whatsoever other than he wants to make things better. And if I’m paying £1.3billion, I’m not coming in to go and do nothing. He will want to see improvements.
“He will want to see improvement across the board in terms of on the pitch, in the recruitment and I think for me that’s the biggest threat now to Erik ten Hag is a new investor coming in who will have control over football affairs.”
Amid reports of a bust-up with Raphael Varane, Wheeler also thinks it’s been a “bad time” for Ten Hag to butt heads with United’s senior players.
“I think it’s a bad time for Erik ten Hag to be losing support of senior players and I think there’s a certain degree of sympathy for Jadon Sancho, and Varane of course has his allies in that dressing room, so it’s not all roses, most definitely. I think there’s also been a bit of a backlash against the discipline,” Wheeler added.
“I think when it’s going well, all these things work fine. When things start to go wrong, that’s when people begin to gripe a little bit, and it is a concern.”