Sir Jim Ratcliffe is reportedly looking to make an instant impact at Manchester United on the transfer front amid claims he wants the club to target a number of high-quality stars all available as free agents next summer.
The long-running saga to take over, or at least buy into Manchester United is finally reaching an end almost a year after the Glazers first invited would-be investors into purchasing a part of the club. And with Sheikh Jassim seeing his bid to gain total control ultimately come to nothing, it was eventually left to Ratcliffe and INEOS to secure a 25% investment into the club, worth some £1.4bn.
That investment should be wrapped up ahead of the January window and could even be finalised as soon as the end of the November. And while it won’t signal the end of the Glazers’ reign at Old Trafford, as many will have initially hoped, it does signal what could be the first steps towards a long-term change of ownership.
Ratcliffe, for his part, is eager to get to work straight away and the Daily Telegraph reports that, as part of his 25% purchase of the club, he will take a big control of the club’s transfer operations. To that end, United will reportedly bring in Cardiff City’s Ben Clarke to a key recruitment role at Old Trafford.
Whether that quite places director of football John Murtough’s future at the club in jeopardy – as some outlets have reported – remains to be seen. However, Irishman Clarke is highly-thought of in the game and will help put the wheels in motion for what Ratcliffe hopes will be a number of successful moves in the transfer market.
Mbappe and Nico Williams among free agents Man Utd want to sign
As part of that strategy, it’s claimed Ratcliffe believes United do not necessarily have to spend outrageous sums to strengthen their squad. And as an alternative, he would like the club to put a strong focus towards the free transfer market, especially in light of the fact that a number of big-name stars are about to enter the final months of their contracts.
To that end, reports claim Ratcliffe hopes to lure a number of big-name players to the club with sizeable signing-on fees instead, while offering them hefty wages to boot.
But in saving millions in transfer fees in the process, Ratcliffe, working alongside his new appointment Clarke, believes there are plenty of ambitious targets United can look to bring in.
The most ambitious name of the lot is Kylian Mbappe, whose deal at PSG expires in summer 2024. He has made clear he does not intend to sign an extension to that arrangement that currently sees him earn a whopping £700,000 a week.
Real Madrid remain the most likely club to take advantage of his impending free-agent status though it’s suggested Ratcliffe could look to muscle in on any potential swoop with a hefty financial package of his own.
Per reports, Ratcliffe’s Plan B for Mbappe would be Athletic Bilbao’s Nico Williams, whom is regarded as one of the brightest prospects in Spain.
The 21-year-old has been offered a new deal, which he is expected to sign, though until the document is signed, it’s suggested United are keeping a close eye on developements.
Ratcliffe wants to sign new midfielder for Man Utd
The British businessman, who turned 71 on Wednesday, also hopes to furnish United with a new, experienced midfielder. And it’s claimed that he wants the club to move for one of three options with long-standing Man Utd target Adrien Rabiot his top target.
The midfielder is once again nearing the end of his deal with Juventus – a situation he also found himself in last year, only to sign a one-year extension – with United, for the third summer in a row taking an interest in acquiring his services.
The failure to sign Rabiot again, however, will not deflate Ratcliffe, who reportedly has two other options in mind; one being veteran Real Madrid schemer Toni Kroos, who is set to leave the Bernabeu after a glittering 10-year stay.
Manchester City have also been linked with the star, who turns 34 in January and has found game-time a little harder to come by this season.
The third option under consideration is understood to be Napoli star Piotr Zielinski.
The Pole has been one of the best midfielders in Serie A over recent years, attracting admiring glances from both Liverpool and West Ham. Indeed, the Hammers saw two bids to secure his signing rejected over the summer by the Italian champions, who were hoping to secure the 29-year-old to a new deal.
However, he is yet to commit to a new deal and Sportbible suggests he could be a name Ratcliffe turns to in 2024.
The 85-times capped midfielder has also been linked with lucrative moves to Saudi Arabia.