Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Man Utd gifted golden chance to sign free-agent Prem star with Ratcliffe to land on perfect Mainoo partner

Sir Jim Ratcliffe is keen to strengthen the Manchester United squad this summer

Sir Jim Ratcliffe is keen to strengthen the Manchester United squad this summer

New Manchester United minority shareholder Sir Jim Ratcliffe has been presented with the chance to reunite with a former Nice star now excelling in the Premier League after the player made clear his wish to play in Europe once again.

The British billionaire is getting to work on major improvements both on and off the field at Old Trafford, having spent £1.3bn acquiring 27.7% of the Glazers’ shares in the club. As part of that arrangement, Ratcliffe has also been granted full sporting control at Manchester United as he plots a course to restore the Red Devils back among the English and European elite.

While he is getting his team in place behind the scenes – Omar Berrada and Jean-Claude Blanc have taken on director roles and Dan Ashworth and Jason Wilcox are poised to take on roles as sporting director and technical director – it is first-team matters that most intrigues their supporters.

Indeed, with United boasting one of the most expensively-assembled squads in the Premier League, their current position of sixth illustrates a side badly underperforming.

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However, despite being Britain’s second wealthiest man, Ratcliffe can only spend money within United’s means and the club will have to toe a tight line with regards Financial Fair Play (FFP) limits to ensure they do not fall foul of Premier League rulings.

Per reports, Ratcliffe, alongside Ashworth, wants to strengthen United’s spine this summer with at least one new centre-half, a midfielder and a striker on their wishlist.

However, their hopes of landing Ivan Toney on the cheap from Brentford this summer have been quickly extinguished by a less-than-impressed Thomas Frank.

Ross Barkley opens door to free move to Man Utd

However, another man who they have been strongly linked with is Luton Town midfielder Ross Barkley, who has been one of the Premier League’s stand-out midfielders this season.

Barkley has made 25 Premier League starts since signing for the Hatters as a free agent following his exit from Ratcliffe’s other major club, Nice.

And having played a part in eight goals so far (four goals and four assists), he’s done as much as any player to help Rob Edwards’ side in their quest to retain their Premier League status.

However, his deal due to expire in the summer, reports have suggested Ratcliffe is keen to reunite with the 33-times capped England international at Old Trafford.

And with his performances seemingly earmaking him as an ideal midfield foil for talented teenager Kobbie Mainoo, Barkley has opened up about his potential next move, admitting he wants to sample European football again.

“I want to play in the Premier League,” Barkley told Sky Sports.

“I want to play in Europe again but I’m not really focused on that now.

“I want to help the club stay in the league. I love the club. It’s helped me so much and I owe them a lot. So I’m focused on that and thinking about nothing other than helping them do that.”

Former England star makes bold statement

Barkley is set to face Manchester City this Saturday as Luton travel to the Etihad Stadium and the midfielder is adamant he is a match for the best in the Premier League.

“I believe I can compete with the top players at Man City and Arsenal,” Barkley added.

“I feel like I’m confident enough to know what their strengths are and what their weaknesses are.

“I feel like I can exploit certain things but when we play Man City, they will have most of the possession so it’s about what you do out of possession. We need to be in the right positions and stick together going forward. Hopefully, I can make some things happen.”

Barkley also counts Everton and Chelsea among his former clubs and has scored 59 times in 379 career appearances – a goal every 6.4 matches.

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