Sir Jim Ratcliffe frustrated as Man Utd blocked from signing Nice’s Jean-Clair Todibo

Man Utd transfer news: Sir Jim Ratcliffe frustrated as Jean-Clair Todibo deal blocked
Jean-Clair Todibo has a host of top clubs looking at him - Getty Images/Sylvain Thomas

Manchester United have been blocked by Uefa from signing Jean-Clair Todibo from Nice this summer.

United’s new minority shareholder Sir Jim Ratcliffe also has a controlling interest in the French club but Uefa’s crackdown on multi-club ownership means that teams who have qualified for the same competitions are also barred from doing transfer deals with each other.

The situation has forced United to abandon efforts to sign Todibo, who had been identified as a replacement for the departed Raphael Varane.

Ratcliffe did not name Todibo when discussing the issue in an interview with Bloomberg but Telegraph Sport understands the £40 million rated 24 year-old is the player the Ineos billionaire was referring to. Nice would still be free to sell Todibo to one of United’s Premier League rivals.

“They’ve said we can sell him to another Premiership club but we can’t sell to Manchester United,” Ratcliffe said. “But that’s not fair on the player and I don’t see what that achieves.”

Telegraph Sport understands Ratcliffe has challenged the situation with Uefa but European football’s governing body are determined to drive a hard line and ensure they are not seen to be favouring certain clubs.

United and Nice have been cleared to play in the Europa League next season but only because Ratcliffe has agreed to put the French club into a blind trust under Uefa’s new clampdown on multi-club ownership.

The situation is likely to raise some questions over why Manchester City have been permitted to sign the 20-year-old Brazil winger from sister club Troyes, who are also owned by the Premier League champions’ parent company City Football Group. Savio spent last season on loan at another CFG owned club Girona, who are also due to be placed into a blind trust like Nice under Uefa’s new rules given that the Spanish side are set to play in the Champions League alongside Manchester City next season.

However, Telegraph Sport understands that because City agreed a deal with Troyes for Savio before Uefa issued new advice to clubs over multi-club ownership on May 14 a block has not been placed on that transfer. Furthermore, the deal is between Troyes, who are not in the Champions League, and City rather than Girona so there is no direct contravention although it remains to be seen if Uefa push for blocks on all transfers between the same ownership groups rather than simply those MCO teams involved in the same European competitions. City are likely to announce the Savio transfer next month

Uefa’s rules bar any organisation or individual from having “decisive influence” over the running of more than one club in the same competition, which Ratcliffe is deemed to have. The British businessman believes multi-club ownership can be a good thing.

Ratcliffe said it was “not [Ineos’] intention” to sell Nice and raised the prospect of the French outfit effectively becoming a feeder club of sorts for United. He said Nice could utilise France’s position within the European Union to sign budding Under-18 players from overseas, something United can no longer do.

Ratcliffe, who was a supporter of Britain’s exit from the EU in 2016, said: “Because of Brexit it’s quite difficult now to contract the younger generational talents in Europe, but Nice could do that.

“If it’s a fantastic 15-year-old in France we can sign him up to Nice and use Nice as a conduit to Manchester United later on.”

United have a net budget of around £50m

With Todibo no longer an option, United have been busy pursuing other deals. They have agreed personal terms with Jarrad Branthwaite but Everton last week rejected an opening bid worth £43 million including add-ons for the England defender.

Everton value Branthwaite around £75 million which is understood to be considerably more than United are willing to pay.

United are also one of several leading clubs bidding for the highly rated Lille centre-back Leny Yoro. Liverpool and Paris-St Germain also want to sign Yoro but it is thought likely that the 18-year-old will end up at Real Madrid.

If one of Harry Maguire or Victor Lindelof – who has interest from Fenerbahce – leaves Old Trafford this summer, United are expected to sign two centre-backs.

A holding midfielder and a striker are the other main priorities, with United preparing to trigger the £33.8 million release clause in Netherlands forward Joshua Zirkzee’s contract with Bologna.

United are in talks with Zirkzee’s camp and, while they maintain they have other options as well, there is serious interest in bringing the 23-year-old to Old Trafford.

Ratcliffe is adamant United will not address all of their squad issues this summer. United have a net budget of around £50 million to spend plus whatever they can raise from player sales with the club hoping to offload the likes of Mason Greenwood and Jadon Sancho, each of whom is valued at £40 million.

“I’m not confident that we’ll solve all the problems in the first transfer window,” he told Bloomberg. “It will take two or three summer windows to get to a better place.”


Ratcliffe: United have more accountants than sporting people

Sir Jim Ratcliffe says Erik ten Hag has not been the main issue at Manchester United and that their problems have centred around the sporting culture at the club.

Ten Hag and United are in discussions over a contract extension after the club opted to keep the Dutchman but only after a two-and-a-half week post-season review and discussions with at least half a dozen other managers.

Ratcliffe took over the day-to-day running of United in February after agreeing a 27.7 per cent stake in the club and immediately set about ringing the changes.

Omar Berrada is due to start as United’s new chief executive next month while Jason Wilcox has been installed as technical director and Dan Ashworth is waiting to resolve a stand-off with Newcastle before joining as sporting director in a dramatic overhaul of the football hierarchy at Old Trafford.

Work on a £50 million revamp of United’s Carrington training base began on Monday and Ratcliffe – who has scrapped the club’s work-from-home policy – appointed corporate restructuring firm Interpath Advisory in March to oversee a cost-cutting drive and improve efficiency amid anticipated job losses.

Speaking to Bloomberg, Ratcliffe said: “The coach isn’t the central issue at Manchester United.

Pointing instead to the “environment” on the sporting side of the business, the Ineos owner added: “It’s a sports club. It needs to be competitive, it needs a degree of intensity, but with a supportive side to it because you are dealing with players who are relatively young. It hasn’t had that type of environment historically.

“We’ve got more accountants than we’ve got sporting people at Manchester United. There’s room for improvement everywhere we look at Manchester United, and we will improve everything. We want to be where Real Madrid is today, but it’ll take time.”

Sir Jim Ratcliffe frustrated as Man Utd blocked from signing Nice's Jean-Clair Todibo
Sir Jim Ratcliffe thinks more sporting expertise is needed at Man Utd - PA/Peter Byrne

With Berrada having been forced to serve six months of gardening leave after leaving Manchester City in January and Ashworth – who is set to take Newcastle to arbitration – not yet in situ, Ratcliffe says United have been left a “bit handicapped” ahead of Ineos’s first transfer window in charge.

“We’re sort of a bit handicapped in that sense, so I think we’ll do a fairly good job,” he said. “I’m not confident that we’ll solve all the problems in the first transfer window. It will take two or three summer windows to get to a better place.”

Ratcliffe reiterated claims that buying one superstar player was not going to solve United’s problems on the pitch and took a thinly-veiled swipe at the club’s past recruitment by saying there are no players in the squad worth at least €100 million (£85 million).

“Manchester United doesn’t have any players that are valued at €100 million or more,” said Ratcliffe, who added that buying one superstar “isn’t going to solve the problem at Manchester United”.

“Everywhere we look there’s room for improvement, and we will improve everything because we want to be competing for the Premier League every year.

“And I don’t think the solution is buy a [Kylian] Mbappe. One player isn’t going to solve the problem, you need to build a balanced squad and we need to make progress with the squad and ultimately you top it off with one or two players like Mbappe, but that’s not the solution today.”

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