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Sir Jim Ratcliffe ‘holds face-to-face talks’ over £15m signing as Man Utd rebuild continues –

Manchester United shareholder Sir Jim Ratcliffe has met with Newcastle co-owner Amanda Staveley in order to try and finalise the acquisition of sporting director Dan Ashworth, according to a report.

Ratcliffe completed the acquisition of a 28% stake in United earlier this year and is now in charge of footballing operations at the club. He has been quick to oversee an internal restructure, with Omar Berrada set to join from rivals Manchester City as CEO this summer, while football director John Murtough’s departure from Old Trafford was confirmed earlier this week.

90min revealed shortly after Murtough’s exit that United plan to split his responsibilities between two prospective new hires – Southampton’s Jason Wilcox as technical director and Newcastle’s Ashworth as sporting director.

While there is a hope and expectation Wilcox could join United in time for the summer transfer window as the compensation package needed to be agreed with Southampton is relatively minimal, Ashworth’s arrival is being complicated by Newcastle’s demands – the Magpies want £15m to part ways with him or he will otherwise have to serve a lengthy 18-month spell on gardening leave.

The Times report Ratcliffe has met with Staveley in order to resolve this ongoing impasse, and there is belief a breakthrough in talks is near due to this personal intervention and the public announcement of Murtough’s exit.

Ashworth is keen on joining Man Utd / Dan Mullan/GettyImages

Ratcliffe has been vocal in his desire to bring Ashworth to United, previously stressing that it would be ‘completely stupid’ for Newcastle to play hardball over his exit.

“I think Dan Ashworth is clearly one of the top sporting directors in the world, I’ve no doubt,” Ratcliffe said in February. “He’s a very capable person. He’s interested in the Manchester United job because it’s probably the biggest sporting director job in the world just now, with the biggest challenge.

“We’ve obviously had words with Newcastle. They would clearly be disappointed to lose Dan. But what I do think is completely absurd is suggesting a man who is really good at his job sits in his garden for one-and-a-half years. That’s completely stupid.”

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