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Manchester United face first major transfer test from Ineos after £80m mistake

Manchester United face first major transfer test from Ineos after £80m mistake

The coming days and, potentially, weeks, of Manchester United’s pursuit of Jarrad Branthwaite will tell us a lot about the new structure of football in place at Old Trafford.

It won’t be a perfect comparison. As Sir Jim Ratcliffe admitted this week, Ineos is operating without the staff it wants and until positions change, “it’s difficult to change”. Dan Ashworth remains on gardening leave from Newcastle and Omar Berrada will only take over as chief executive in three weeks.




For now, it is technical director Jason Wilcox and director of football negotiations Matt Hargreaves who lead the window and within a week they have found their first significant test. In recent seasons, United have underestimated an opening bid for a player of their choice.

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The £43million bid for Jarrad Branthwiate was rejected by Everton, who saw it as a £35million bid given they felt the additions were not all realistic to make. That’s half the £70 million price tag they placed on his head.

We’ve been here before with United. In 2019, they ended up going all the way to Leicester City’s £80million asking price for Harry Maguire and even paying that fee in one lump sum. The scale of that deal is now being used against them, although senior officials at Old Trafford are right to point out that the comparisons are not valid given how the market has changed over the previous five seasons.

Everton stick to their guns, though, and you can see why they would. A year ago, it took United four bids to land Mason Mount, failing with bids of £40m, £50m and £55m, before agreeing a deal for the latter sum as well as £5 million worth of add-ons. These extras are lofty goals, but the final deal was close to the asking price Chelsea had always wanted for a player with one year remaining on his contract.