Man United eye Newcastle’s Ashworth as sporting director – sources

Manchester United are closing in on appointing Dan Ashworth as their new sporting director, sources have told ESPN.

Ashworth is under contract at Newcastle United but he is United’s top target for the role and there is growing confidence he will be appointed.

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Newcastle want to keep the 52-year-old but fear he has already made up his mind to move to Old Trafford.

Ashworth would be the second major appointment since Sir Jim Ratcliffe agreed a deal to buy a 25% stake in the club, following the appointment of Omar Berrada as chief executive.

Berrada, who has been at Manchester City, is on gardening leave and is expected to take up the role in the summer.

Ratcliffe’s minority investment is nearing completion after the deal was being approved by the Premier League and England’s Football Association.

Sources have told ESPN the deal is considered a formality and could be officially ratified as early as next week.

Ratcliffe and his team, headed by INEOS director of sport Sir Dave Brailsford, are set to lead an overall of football operations, starting with Ashworth’s appointment.

Ashworth, who has also worked at Brighton, West Brom and the FA, is also set to have influence over other appointments within the recruitment department.

He is a big admirer of Sam Jewell, Brighton’s head of recruitment.

United are yet to make an official approach to Newcastle for Ashworth but they are hopeful an agreement can be reached.