Man Utd will rue ‘£4bn talks’ as Newcastle show what could have been

Eddie Howe makes no apologies for Newcastle’s no-nonsense approach to winning

Manchester United travel to St James’ Park for a huge Premier League showdown with Newcastle on Saturday evening. And the Red Devils could be rueing the fact they weren’t taken over by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Public Investment Fund when the match gets underway. Bin Salman was linked with a United takeover in 2018 – but the PIF eventually secured a deal to buy Newcastle from Mike Ashley three years later.

United were put up for sale by their Glazer family owners a year ago, with a whole host of parties coming forward to explore the possibility of a takeover. INEOS owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe appears to have come out of top of negotiations with the Glazers but will only get his hands on a 25 per cent stake in the club when his £1.3billion deal is eventually green-lighted.

Ratcliffe is set to take over football operations and is said to have big plans in place on and off the field. But his investment is a far cry from the funds United could have obtained if Bin Salman was successful in a takeover bid.

In October 2018, The Mirror reported that Bin Salman was preparing a £4billion bid to purchase the Red Devils and was hoping to meet owners Joel and Avram Glazer in the Middle East. A year later, The Sun claimed the Saudi prince was putting together a third takeover bid after having two previous offers declined.

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A deal never came to fruition as United remained in the Glazers’ hands. And the failure could now be haunting the Red Devils. If Bin Salman had taken over the 13-time Premier League champions, United would have had money to burn.

Instead of raiding the bargain bucket for the likes of Odion Ighalo and Wout Weghorst in recent years, the club would more than likely have gone after genuinely world-class players. They could have built a team that could rival the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool for the Premier League title and compete with the best teams in Europe for Champions League glory.

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And the club may have already been deep into an Old Trafford renovation project to bring their stadium up to the standards of some of their rival’s arenas. Instead, United are facing a battle just to break into the top four of the Premier League this season following a disastrous start to the campaign.

United’s loss was Newcastle’s gain, with the Magpies going from strength to strength since the PIF’s takeover. Newcastle appeared to be hurtling towards the Championship before PIF bought the club – but they are now competing in the Champions League and have built a formidable squad. And Saturday’s showdown between the Magpies and the Red Devils could really expose the shortcomings of Erik ten Hag’s side and serve as a reminder of what could have been.

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