Man Utd have plan to sign 'next Roy Keane' as Sir Jim Ratcliffe snubs Kylian Mbappe

Man Utd plans to accelerate after Sir Jim Ratcliffe completes deal

Manchester United will try to sign the next Kylian Mbappe rather than the PSG forward himself as Sir Jim Ratcliffe looks to move away from buying expensive superstar players. Ratcliffe claims the idea of signing breakthrough talents who can grow into players of Mbappe, Jude Bellingham and Roy Keane’s calibre is the big challenge now for INEOS.

United have spent well over £1billion on new players in the past decade but many of their big-money buys have failed to succeed at Old Trafford. Even in the past few seasons, Jadon Sancho, Antony and Donny van de Beek are among those who have not met expectations.

The trio cost almost £200m in transfer fees alone and all three may leave this coming summer. Damningly, they are far from the only evidence of United’s underwhelming recruitment while the much-maligned Glazer family have been in charge.

And INEOS chairman Ratcliffe, the boyhood United fan now in charge of the footballing operations, insists the strategy must change if the Red Devils are to become the dominant Premier League force once more.

Asked on Geraint Thomas’ Cycling Club podcast whether he would have tried to sign Bellingham last summer, with the England international now thriving for Real Madrid, Ratcliffe said: “He is a great footballer. It’s not where our focus is, the solution isn’t spending a lot of money on a couple of great players.

“They have done that, if you look at the last 10 years, they have spent a lot of money on a couple of great players. The first thing we need to do is get the right people in the right boxes who are managing and organising the club.

“And make sure we get recruitment right, it is such a vital part of football today.” Ratcliffe has already worked on installing better decision-makers in powerful positions, with Omar Berrada coming in as the new CEO from Manchester City.

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Sir Jim Ratcliffe wants to make Man Utd the best team in England once again (Image: PA)

They are also looking to make Newcastle’s Dan Ashworth the club’s new sporting director, with Southampton director of football Jason Wilcox eyed to work under him. And Ratcliffe, quizzed if he’d rather sign Mbappe for United or Tadej Pogacar for his cycling team INEOS Grenadiers, made clear what his ambitions are in the transfer market.

He explained: “I would rather sign the next Mbappe rather than spend a fortune buying success. It’s not that clever buying Mbappe. Anyone could figure that one out. More challenging is to find the next Mbappe or next Bellingham or next Roy Keane.”

Ratcliffe has already spelled out his dream of establishing United as the best team in the country once more. And he has INEOS right-hand man Sir Dave Brailsford helping him map out the route back to the summit of English football.

But the 71-year-old is under no illusions and expects it to be a lengthy journey despite United’s resources. He explained: “The two people who are most focused on it would be Dave and myself, in terms of how we resolve it all.

“We’ve now got Omar Berrada of course, our new CEO from Manchester City, who is still on gardening leave at the moment. He’ll be a big part of it. But it’s Dave and myself really.

“You have to believe with Manchester United, if we get all the details right, all the right people in the right boxes, doing the right things in the right environment, that sporting elite environment that the results will drop out the bottom.

“Those things are not right at Manchester United today as we’ve said very clearly. It’s not a light switch, it’s a much longer road to travel because there’s so many aspects to it.”

Despite Erik ten Hag’s team securing an epic 4-3 win over bitter rivals Liverpool in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup on Sunday, United still find themselves well adrift of the Premier League’s leading pack. After 28 games, leaders Arsenal are 17 points ahead of them.

Even fourth-placed Aston Villa are nine points away although United have a game in hand on the Villans. Ten Hag’s side have lost 11 of their top-flight outings this season and captain Bruno Fernandes has admitted they may need 10 wins from 10 at the end of the campaign to sneak into the top four.

But the success of their rivals City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Villa and West Ham in Europe means England are expected to benefit from a fifth Champions League qualifying spot this term. Tottenham currently occupy fifth and are six points ahead of United at present.