Newcastle transfer news: Director Dan Ashworth 'unlikely' to leave Newcastle United

Sporting director Dan Ashworth has indicated he's 'reluctant' to leave the unfinished Newcastle United project amid interest from Manchester United.

England v Croatia: Semi Final - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia
England v Croatia: Semi Final - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia / Dan Mullan/GettyImages
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Dan Ashworth joined the Newcastle United project shortly after the takeover, and has held the position of sporting director ahead of the 2022/23 campaign. In his stint at the club, Newcastle have spent over £285m on players like Anthony Gordon and Sandro Tonali.

It's thought his influence spreads further than first team signings though, and he's been instrumental in developing the club's youth recruitment system, and arranging loans for talented youngster Garang Kuol and Yankuba Minteh. The latter of whom is currently in Gambia's team for the Africa Cup of Nations.

However, his good work hasn't gone unnoticed, and since Manchester United confirmed that Sir Jim Ratcliffe's INEOS bought 25% of the club in December, rumours of a potential move for Ashworth have been rife.

Ratcliffe and INEOS have become responsible for football operations at Manchester United, and will oversee a two month long audit of the club where they'll identify deadwood and transfer targets, both on the pitch and in the backroom.

INEOS' director of sport, Sir Dave Brailsford, is spearheading this audit, and high on his agenda is to overhail how transfers are completed at Old Trafford. Brailsford also has a "long-standing relationship" with Ashworth, which has continued in recent months.

Newcastle transfer news: Director Dan Ashworth 'unlikely' to leave Newcastle United

Ashworth however, is thought to be 'reluctant' to move to Manchester United, likely because he see's Newcastle as a project that he hasn't completed. But, The Independent claim that his position may change with 'very high financial offer and well-defined terms'. Something, Man Utd could offer him.

Eddie Howe refused to be drawn into speculation, but outlined how vital Ashworth is to the club's future, saying:

"I think whenever someone is in the role of importance that Dan is, hugely important and he's done a really good job in helping us in loads of different ways, building departments, the training ground, he's connected with everything that goes on in terms of the decision making at the football club.

He's hugely important and has been a really calming influence behind the scenes, his vast experience has really helped."

Eddie Howe

Ashworth himself has previous stated his love of Newcastle United:

"I'm really happy, it's a brilliant city, club and project. I'm thoroughly engaged in throwing myself into all of those things and really enjoying the challenge."

Dan Ashworth

If Manchester United were to make the move for Ashworth, it's likely they will have to pay an extremely high fee to release him from his Newcastle contract, which doesn't include a release clause, but does hold a 12 month notice period with non-compete clauses.

Meanwhile, Newcastle United continue to look to sign new players in the winter window, with interest in Ousmane Diomande and Kalvin Phillips.

What do you make of today's Newcastle transfer news?