- Manchester United is gearing up for transition, and part of it will be the hiring of a sporting director.
- We look at the potential names for the position.
Manchester United is gearing up for transition, and part of the new management will be the hiring of a sporting director at Old Trafford.
The selection of a sports director is a top priority once Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s minority ownership in the Premier League team is finalized. The British tycoon will take over football operations.
In the first indication of a shift, Richard Arnold’s resignation as CEO has already been confirmed, and a number of names have been mentioned as potential candidates to take over the football division.
We look at the potential names for the Sporting Director position.
Paul Mitchell, who served as Mauricio Pochettino’s head of recruiting at Southampton and Tottenham, is still being linked to a return to the Premier League.
Mitchell, who spent his playing career with Wigan and was born in Stalybridge, Greater Manchester, has been at AS Monaco since 2020 following a stint with RB Leipzig.
Mitchell was the driving force behind Spurs’ successful tenure under Pochettino, bringing to North London players such as Son Heung-min, Toby Alderweireld, Dele Alli, and Kieran Trippier. At Leipzig, he brought in Christopher Nkunku from Paris Saint-Germain, who went on to become one of the best players in the Bundesliga after being on the fringes of the French team.
He acquired Axel Disasi and Aurelien Tchouameni from rivals at Monaco and then sold both of them for enormous gains.
Paolo Maldini and Ricky Massara
Ricky Massara and Paolo Maldini, who have been without a club since being let go from AC Milan in June, have been discussed as possible dual options for Manchester United.
Despite the fact that each played a significant part in Milan’s Serie A championship in 2021–2022, the club’s first in 11 years, their departures were accompanied by conflict with other board members.
One of the most renowned players in AC Milan history, Maldini made 902 appearances throughout his one-club career, including five European Cup/Champions League championships and seven league triumphs. Giuseppe Massara made a number of astute acquisitions to restore the Rossoneri’s competitiveness at the top of the division.
After being underutilized and underappreciated at previous teams, Theo Hernandez and Fikayo Tomori have emerged as important characters at the San Siro, while Mike Maignan was successfully brought in to replace the departed Gianluigi Donnarumma.
While Olivier Giroud and Zlatan Ibrahimovic have both made significant contributions since joining as experienced signings, Maldini and Massara have demonstrated an eye for older assets when necessary, even if Milan has recently focused on hiring up-and-coming players.
The pair received the 2022 Globe Soccer Awards’ Sporting Director of the Year honor.
The current sports director of Atletico Madrid, Andrea Berta, has been linked to both Manchester United and Tottenham.
Over the course of Berta’s more than ten years at Atletico, the Spanish team has advanced to two Champions League finals and won two La Liga crowns. Berta’s hiring has been essential to Atletico’s ability to compete with the Spanish football titans, Real Madrid and Barcelona, given their dominance at home.
Three of his biggest achievements were Radamel Falcao, Jan Oblak, and Antoine Griezmann, who all achieved elite status while wearing an Atletico shirt.
After Ratcliffe’s partial investment is finalized, United, who has been connected to bringing the Italian to the Premier League in past seasons, may show renewed interest in the transfer director.
Throughout his lengthy career, Lee Congerton has played in the background for elite teams, spending time with West Brom, Sunderland, Liverpool, Chelsea, Hamburg, Celtic, and Leicester.
Two of his greatest acquisitions at Leicester were Wesley Fofana and James Justin, the latter of whom left the Foxes for Chelsea in a £75 million transfer after only two seasons at the King Power Stadium, more than doubling their original outlay.
The 51-year-old arrived at Atalanta in Italy in 2022 and played a key role in Rasmus Hojlund’s transfer from Sturm Graz. Hojlund cost around £15 million when he joined the Serie A team, but he ended up making almost £50 million in profit for the team last summer.
With several costly and ineffective acquisitions to the Old Trafford roster over the previous ten years, Manchester United has sadly lacked this kind of sense of developing potential.