Sources: Man Utd won’t break bank for Ashworth

Manchester United have made a formal offer for Newcastle United sporting director Dan Ashworth but are not willing to pay what they believe to be excessive compensation for his services, sources have told ESPN.

United have made Ashworth a top target in the overhaul of the football operations at Old Trafford being led by new minority shareholder Sir Jim Ratcliffe.

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Ashworth has already been placed on gardening leave by Newcastle after telling the club he wants to join United.

“We are naturally disappointed that Dan has chosen to leave, however our exciting journey doesn’t stop and the process to recruit a new sporting director will begin immediately,” Newcastle CEO Darren Eales said.

“We thank Dan for his efforts at Newcastle United and we wish him and his family well for the future.”

Newcastle believe they are well protected because of the 52-year-old’s contract situation at St James’ Park and, once an official approach is made, would be within their rights to demand a fee of more than £10 million ($12.6m).

Ashworth could be on gardening leave for as long as 20 months, although Newcastle would allow it to be cut short in an exchange for an additional payment. Reports have said Newcastle could demand a total fee of between £15m and £20m.

However, United, who have concerns about breaching profit and sustainability rules, are conscious that they would not want to help Newcastle fix their own financial difficulties while making their own worse.

A source has told ESPN that it is growing increasingly likely that United will look to pay a lower amount of compensation with Ashworth serving at least some gardening leave, possibly until February 2025.

Speaking on Friday, Newcastle manager Eddie Howe said he hoped for a quick resolution to the situation but admitted he was concerned about Ashworth possibly taking invaluable knowledge to United.

“He’s in a position of power, with a lot of intelligence and information,” Howe said.

United have already started planning for the summer with manager Erik ten Hag and current football director John Murtough.

It is already highly unlikely that Ashworth will be able to have any influence over the window, which will be the first officially overseen by Ratcliffe and his INEOS team, led by Sir Dave Brailsford.

With an approach for Ashworth expected imminently, a source has told ESPN that United are also considering making further appointments to their recruitment department and hold an interest in Southampton’s Jason Wilcox and Brighton’s Sam Jewell.

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