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Other SportsDan Ashworth: Manchester United sporting director target placed on gardening leave by...

Dan Ashworth: Manchester United sporting director target placed on gardening leave by Newcastle – reports

Manchester United target Dan Ashworth has been placed on gardening leave by Newcastle after telling the Magpies he wants to move to Old Trafford, according to reports.

Sporting director Ashworth has been heavily linked with United since the ratification last week of Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s investment in the club, which will see the billionaire take over football operations at the club as part of a 25% stake.

Talks between the Premier League clubs have not started, a BBC Sport report said, adding that Newcastle want a fee of more than £10m to free Ashworth from his contract until 2025, with United “determined they will not be held to ransom”.

Ashworth’s price tag is £20m, according to The Athletic, which said United will not be “pressured” into paying an “unrealistic” sum.

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The 52-year-old served three months’ gardening leave upon leaving Brighton for Newcastle in 2022, when those clubs eventually agreed a settlement to allow the former FA and West Brom technical boss to resume work.

Ratcliffe, whose Ineos group has paid more than £1 billion for its stake, is expected to oversee significant change at United, with a key role for Sir Dave Brailsford, the man best known for helping to revive British cycling, and Ashworth.

Ashworth to United ‘a difficult one’

Speaking on Friday, Newcastle manager Eddie Howe said the club had received “no contact” from United.

“It’s been in the news a lot and usually that means something is going to happen,” added Howe.

“It’s an unusual situation – usually there is transfer speculation on players. This is different. Whatever happens, we want a quick resolution.

“It’s a difficult one. You need longevity in that role to see the fruits of your labour. It’s a long-term position.

“The people that have done it best in the Premier League have always had a period of stability.

“Change takes a long time at a football club to get the processes how you want them to be. Dan’s had a short time here.”

Signings overseen by Ashworth have included Moises Caicedo, who joined Brighton for £4.5m and went on to sign for Chelsea for a British-record £115m, and £60m Newcastle record signing Alexander Isak.

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