Source: Ashworth close to joining Man Utd as SD

Manchester United are close to reaching a settlement with Newcastle United to appoint Dan Ashworth as their new sporting director, a source has told ESPN.

Ashworth has been on leave since February after informing Newcastle United he wants to make the switch to Old Trafford. Newcastle have been holding firm for a compensation fee of around £20 million and, according to a source, the two clubs are nearing an agreement.

United declined to comment when contacted by ESPN, but there is hope that an arbitration hearing to resolve the matter can be avoided.

Ashworth is set to become the latest major appointment following Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s arrival as co-owner. Omar Berrada will begin his role as CEO on July 13, following the end of gardening leave from Manchester City.

Jason Wilcox is already in place as technical director after joining from Southampton.

Ratcliffe had accused Newcastle of being “very awkward” in negotiations to appoint Ashworth, who was facing an 18-month wait before being allowed to start work at United. Sources have told ESPN that Ratcliffe said internally that player recruitment will “not be up to full speed” until Ashworth is in place.

Ashworth, 53, has had spells at West Bromwich Albion, the FA and Brighton before joining Newcastle in 2022. In Ashworth’s absence, work on United’s summer transfer plans has been driven by Wilcox, chief scout Steve Brown and head of football negotiations Matt Hargreaves.

United, who have decided to retain Erik ten Hag as manager for next season, are keen to sign a centre-back, striker and central midfielder in the window.

Sources have told ESPN that the club is hopeful of agreeing a new contract with Ten Hag soon before revamping his coaching staff with the appointments of former United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy and Go Ahead Eagles manager Rene Hake.

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