Erik ten Hag has already met Sir Jim Ratcliffe and made telling gesture

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Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has already met Sir Jim Ratcliffe as the British billionaire closes in on a deal to buy a minority stake in the club. Sir Jim has reportedly won the United takeover race, fending off competition from Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani to strike an agreement with the Glazer family.

The 71-year-old, who owns petrochemicals colossus INEOS, is set to purchase 25 per cent of the club through a mix of A and B shares.

INEOS are expected to receive total sporting control at Old Trafford with majority power on a football committee featuring Sir Jim, Sir Dave Brailsford and Joel Glazer.

Sir Jim’s arrival could prompt an overhaul in United’s sporting department. Football director John Murtough and chief executive Richard Arnold are two staff members with uncertain futures.

But Ten Hag’s job is reportedly safe, given the Dutchman is highly rated throughout the club and by Sir Jim after a successful first season at the helm.

He has already met United’s potential future owner face to face as the pair prepare to start their working relationship.

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In March, Sir Jim and his INEOS representatives visited Old Trafford and United’s Carrington training base for a tour and discussions about a potential takeover.

And ahead of the FA Cup quarter-final clash against Fulham en route to the Manchester derby final, Ten Hag confirmed that he met Sir Jim while he was shown around Carrington.

“I just met them and shook hands, but I am focused on the game. We play a big game on Sunday, and all our focus is on that. Others in the club are dealing with potential investors.

“My job is to focus on the game, so let’s talk about the game. Fulham, it is a big tie, so let’s get ready for that.”

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It likely won’t be the last time Ten Hag shakes hands with Sir Jim ahead of what both will hope to be a long-term partnership in their quest to take United back to the top.

But with INEOS reportedly already drawing up a shortlist of potential sporting directors, with Paul Mitchell at the forefront of their thinking, Ten Hag may have to accept a change of system behind the scenes.

He has strongly driven recruitment at Old Trafford, receiving many of his first-choice targets, to mixed success so far.

The arrival of a sporting director is bound to switch things up as Sir Jim plans to streamline United’s sporting operations and harvest quick improvement on the pitch.

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