Football Digest: Ratcliffe closes in on deal for 25% stake in Man Utd
Sir Jim Ratcliffe is expected to oversee a shake-up at Manchester United once he completes his £1.3billion purchase of a 25 per cent stake in the coming weeks. The INEOS CEO will reportedly inherit total sporting control at Old Trafford once he enters business with the Glazer family, which could spell trouble for certain higher-ups.
Ratcliffe is said to have criticised Richard Arnold and John Murtough for United’s careless expenditure in the transfer market in recent history, including signings made by current manager Erik ten Hag.
Express Sport pinpoints four players – subjects of questionable big-money deals – who could be at risk of being pushed aside under the 71-year-old’s watch.
United agreed an £80m deal to sign Harry Maguire from Leicester City in 2019.
Life at Old Trafford started brightly, and he became Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s captain shortly after his arrival.
But Maguire has slipped down the pecking order in the last two seasons, owing to a steep decline in performance that has made him a subject of mass mockery for his lofty price tag.
Ten Hag looked to offload him in the summer, but a £30m switch to West Ham United collapsed. Next summer, or even January, should produce a different outcome.
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Donny van de Beek
United agreed a £34m deal to sign Donny van de Beek from Ajax in 2020.
Solskjaer had failed to sign Jack Grealish from Aston Villa, prompting United to seal a swoop for Van de Beek out of nowhere.
It sparked early excitement, given the Dutch midfielder was one of the stars of Ten Hag’s successful Ajax side.
But three years on, Van de Beek still hasn’t got off the mark at Old Trafford, failing to take opportunities when they have arrived. And they haven’t arrived often.
Seeing the 26-year-old remain at United this summer after a reunion with Ten Hag failed to reignite his career was a shock. It would be a shock to see him stay beyond January at this rate.
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United agreed a £73m deal to sign Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund in 2021.
This was the big one. This was the transfer that promised to take United back to the glory days. This was the climax of a two-year-long chase for one of Europe’s most promising wingers.
But then Cristiano Ronaldo returned, limiting Sancho’s role in his maiden Red Devils campaign. His woes leaked into last term, which featured a lengthy absence due to mental and physical issues.
And his explosive public row with Ten Hag all but spelt the end for his miserable M16 stay before Ratcliffe’s impending arrival came to light. An initial loan in January looks increasingly likely.
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United agreed a £70m deal to sign Casemiro from Real Madrid in 2022.
When Ratcliffe reportedly questioned United’s recruitment strategy during his visit to Old Trafford and Carrington in March, Casemiro was an example he presented.
It was an incredible sum of money to splash on a 30-year-old, wasn’t it? Especially given he wasn’t Ten Hag’s first-choice midfielder last summer. That was Frenkie de Jong.
Casemiro looked to have proved his doubters wrong in his debut season, levelling up Ten Hag’s midfield from the days of a Scott McTominay and Fred double pivot.
But the Brazil captain couldn’t have looked more like a different player this term. Slow, sluggish, and increasingly rash. United will surely seek a long-term replacement in the near future.
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