Manchester United step up attempts to poach Southampton transfer guru

Manchester United have made an official approach to Southampton for their director of football Jason Wilcox as they look to build a new team off the field in the Sir Jim Ratcliffe era.

United want Wilcox to work with Dan Ashworth, their top target for the role of sporting director and who has been put on gardening leave by Newcastle after interest from Old Trafford.

Now United have agreed to pay Southampton a sum that is the equivalent of a full year of the 53-year-old’s salary, though Wilcox has only been with the Championship club for nine months.

They hope for a reasonable and amicable outcome after hitting an impasse in their attempts to bring in Ashworth, with Newcastle wanting £20m for the former FA technical director.

Wilcox worked with Omar Berrada, United’s incoming CEO, during his time at Manchester City, when he rose to become academy director and oversaw a youth policy that proved very profitable for the current Premier League champions.

In his time at Southampton, he has overseen a promotion challenge, appointing manager Russell Martin while making a profit of over £150m in the transfer market.

Wilcox, a former England international winger, was a Premier League winner in his days as a Blackburn winger and also played for Leeds, Blackpool and Leicester before moving into coaching.

United’s attempt to hire him is part of Ratcliffe’s move to reshape the club after his minority investment was completed.

The Ineos billionaire has taken control of footballing operations and appointed Jean-Claude Blanc and Sir Dave Brailsford to the club’s board, as well as taking Berrada from City.