Sir Jim Ratcliffe has reportedly identified Paul Mitchell as the man who could become Manchester United’s new sporting director, as the founder of INEOS prepares to take control of the club’s sporting operation.
Ratcliffe is said to be on the brink of acquiring a 25% stake in Man United from the Glazer family, who are the current sole owners of the club. Reports from the BBC suggest the English billionaire could be in control of United ahead of the January transfer window if the Premier League ratify the deal in time.
In November, United announced that their CEO, Richard Arnold, had left the club and legal counsel Patrick Stewart would take charge on an interim basis. Jean-Claude Blanc, the former PSG and Juventus executive is a name being tipped to replace Arnold in the new year on a full-time basis.
In what is anticipated to be a time of change for United, The Sporting News takes a look at the latest name to be linked to an executive role within the club.
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Mitchell, who was born in Stalybright in Greater Manchester, played for Wigan Athletic and helped them to promotion in 2003. After retiring at the young age of 27 at MK Dons due to injury, he was granted an ambassadorial role before becoming their head scout in 2010.
He went on to become the head of recruitment at Tottenham Hotspur, working well with Mauricio Pochettino there and at Southampton. He also boasts roles at RB Leipzig and most recently Monaco on his CV. He left that role in France back in June.
Reports indicate that the 42-year-old has relocated to the north west of England and could be on his way in at Old Trafford.
During his spell with Pochettino at Southampton, Mitchell led the pursuit of Sadio Mane in a £10m deal from RB Salzburg in September 2014. The Senegalese forward had caught some attention across Europe after his 77 goal contributions in 87 games over in Germany.
Mane then went on to sign for Liverpool for £35 million where he won the Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup and League Cup. As well as an Africa Cup of Nations with his national team.
Back in 2015, when Mitchell moved to Spurs, he once again looked to the German market for a superstar forward signing. He spent £22 million on Son, a player who had many in English football hadn’t heard of.
The South Korean has since gone on to captain Spurs and has surpassed the 150-goal mark at the North London side.
Another Spurs signing, this time Mitchell brought in Trippier from Burnley in 2015. The right-back eventually went on to replace Kyle Walker in the starting XI – who had left for Manchester City in a world-record deal for a defender worth over £50 million.
He spent four seasons in North London before moving to Atletico Madrid, where he won La Liga. The Englishman moved back to the Premier League in 2022, becoming arguably Newcastle’s most important player.
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The French attacker signed for RB Leipzig from Paris Saint-Germain in July and was named the Bundesliga Player of the Season for the 2021/22 campaign.
Nkunku scored 70 goals and became the first signing of the Pochettino era at Chelsea. Unfortunately for him, he has suffered a long-term knee injury and is yet to make a professional appearance for the Blues.
Spurs signed the talented youth prospect from MK Dons for a fee worth around £5 million in 2015 before sending him back on loan for the remainder of the year where Alli developed into a fantastic midfielder.
He then quickly established himself as one of the best players across Europe for Spurs under the management of Pochettino and played a pivotal role in reaching the Champions League final.