Sir Jim Ratcliffe questioned Manchester United’s recent transfer policy during his visit to the club in March, with the prospective new minority owner citing the previous summer’s acquisition of Casemiro as an example of what he views as questionable recruitment.
Ratcliffe, whose bid to purchase 25% of the club is expected to be voted on during a board meeting on Thursday, believes United run a productive commercial operation but that investment in the squad could be markedly improved.
Ratcliffe raised this during the presentation given to him on 17 March by the United hierarchy in the Jimmy Murphy Centre at the club’s Carrington training base. Richard Arnold, the chief executive, and John Murtough, the football director, were among those in attendance.
Ratcliffe suggested the choice of the players signed by United in the past few seasons had not always been the most prudent. As an example he pointed to Casemiro’s purchase for €60m the previous August from Real Madrid. The midfielder was 30 years old and was given a four-year contract of about £350,000 a week.
Casemiro enjoyed a standout debut season, scoring in February’s 2-0 Carabao Cup final triumph over Newcastle, but this season he has appeared off the pace and his form has faltered.
Nice, the club Ratcliffe owns, recruited Aaron Ramsey, Kasper Schmeichel and Ross Barkley among more than 10 signings in the summer when Casemiro joined United. Schmeichel was 35 and signed a three-year contract in a £1m transfer from Leicester; Ramsey, then 31, and Barkley, then 28, came on frees and were given one-year contracts. All three players left Nice this summer.
Ratcliffe’s views on recruitment may call into question the futures of Arnold and Murtough. Arnold, United’s most powerful executive, has overall responsibility for recruitment, while Murtough takes the lead in identifying potential targets. As part of the £1.3bn offer Ratcliffe, the Ineos owner, has made for a quarter share of United he wants control over the football department.