Paolo Maldini is the latest name to be linked to an executive role at Manchester United as Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s minority stake to take sporting control of the club edges nearer.
The British billionaire is reportedly set to complete his purchase of 25 percent of United later this month and could be in charge of the sporting operation in the coming weeks, once the Premier League ratifies the deal.
United have recently made public the departure of their CEO, Richard Arnold, with legal counsel Patrick Stewart assuming an interim leadership role. Speculation suggests that Jean-Claude Blanc, a former executive at Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus, is a frontrunner to permanently succeed Arnold in the coming year.
With Ratcliffe set to oversee more changes at the top of the club, John Murtough’s director of football position is under threat given United’s sizeable investments in the playing squad have not brought them closer to challenging Manchester City.
As such, there are a number of candidates for that role who have been linked with a move to Old Trafford.
Is Paolo Maldini joining Man United?
It was reported in The Telegraph on November 16 that Paolo Maldini was one of several candidates to become Manchester United’s new sporting director.
The newspaper said that Sir Jim Ratcliffe will seek guidance from former United manager Sir Alex Ferguson over the best choice for the role. It is assumed that John Murtough, United’s current Football Director, will leave.
Frederic Massara, who worked alongside Maldini as Milan’s director of football, could potentially join him in moving to United.
Many will know Maldini for his standout career as a player at AC Milan. He is widely regarded as one of the best defenders the world has ever seen.
Having completed 25 seasons in Serie A, he clinched an impressive seven league titles, five European Cups/UEFA Champions Leagues, and several individual accolades. His illustrious career ended in 2009 when he decided to retire at 41.
A decade on from his retirement, Maldini secured a technical director role at the Italian giants and was largely credited with piecing together the young squad that won the 2021/22 Serie A title, the club’s first in 11 years.
However, he was then shockingly sacked from his role. In a boardroom meeting, club owner Gerry Cardinale reportedly informed Maldini that his services were no longer needed amid a new recruitment strategy he was putting in place.
Man United sporting director: Who are the other candidates?
Maldini is not the only name linked with a move to Man United and the new executive structure on the sporting side. Here are some of the other rumoured favourites for the role of sporting director.
Mitchell, who was born in Stalybridge 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 Southampton, working well alongside manager Mauricio Pochettino. The two then moved to Tottenham Hotspur and enjoyed further success, although trophies eluded the team. Mitchell also boasts experience of roles at RB Leipzig and most recently Monaco on his CV. He left that position in France back in June.
His most notable transfer achievements include bringing Sadio Mane, Son Heung-min and Dele Alli to the Premier League.
Freedman is a man who has links to the great Sir Alex Ferguson, and if there’s one thing we know about jobs at United, it’s that having Ferguson as a reference can go a long way. Ask David Moyes.
Freedman is the current Crystal Palace sporting director and has been in that role since 2017. He has helped Palace become a reliable mid-table Premier League club and United are reportedly drawn to Freedman’s ability to identify and develop untapped talent.
Despite Palace’s limited scouting network, Freedman’s approach has resulted in successful signings such as Marc Guehi, whose £18 million ($24.8 million) acquisition from Chelsea involved extensive assessments from scouts. This approach, emphasising promising young players for long-term development, resonates with United’s aspirations. The success stories of players such as Guehi, Eberechi Eze (signed in 2020), and Michael Olise (signed in 2021) highlight Freedman’s knack for talent identification and development, showcasing his impact on Palace’s strategic recruitment decisions.
Lodi646 app Berta has spent a decade at Atletico Madrid and over five years as their sporting director. His influence on the Spanish outfit attracted interest from United in 2018, but a move did not materialise.
Berta played a key role in securing Atletico’s first top-flight title in 18 years in the 2013/14 season and his oversight of transfers saw the acquisitions of stars including Antoine Griezmann, Jan Oblak, and current Manchester City standout Rodri.
If United were to make a move for the Italian, they could face competition. Paris Saint-Germain have also been sniffing around his availability, according to reports.
Welshman Congerton is another man linked with the role at United, although not as strongly as some of the other candidates.
After seeing his playing career cut short by injuries, Congerton became a coach at Wrexham before moving to Liverpool in 2002. Three years later, he was signed as a youth coach by Chelsea, who had just named Jose Mourinho manager; however, he was quickly moved to the role of chief scout after an internal reshuffle at Stamford Bridge. top646
Congerton joined Hamburg in the Bundesliga as technical director in 2011 before returning to England with Sunderland in 2014. He was then head of recruitment for two years at Celtic, working alongisde manager Brendan Rodgers, whom he joined at Leicester City in 2019.
Presently, Congerton holds that sa me role at Serie A side Atalanta, who sold Rasmus Hojlund to Man United this past summer. Lodi646 review