Ashworth's track record speaks for itself.

Gamechanger for Man Utd? An absolutely superb XI of players signed by Dan Ashworth

Manchester United have reportedly identified Newcastle United’s sporting director Dan Ashworth as the man to spearhead the new Sir Jam Ratcliffe era at Old Trafford.

The Athletic report that while contracted to Newcastle, the 52-year-old is open to joining the new structure under INEOS at Manchester United.

Given how sketchy the club’s track record has been when it comes to player recruitment and squad-building in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era, it makes sense that the Red Devils are looking to appoint someone who is proven at scouting players and making successful signings.

We’ve put together a full XI of excellent signings made by Ashworth at Brighton and Newcastle.

GK: Nick Pope

During his time with Burnley, Pope established himself as one of the best shot-stoppers in the Premier League – so it made sense for Newcastle to capitalise on the Clarets’ 2022 relegation and snap him up.

But few could have predicted quite how revelatory he’d be in his debut season at St. James’ Park, one of the key pillars for Eddie Howe’s Magpies as they upset the odds to qualify for the Champions League at the expense of Liverpool.

RB: Tino Livramento

The Chelsea academy graduate showed a lot of promise at Southampton before his progress was seriously curtailed by an ACL injury that left him sidelined for almost the entirety of the Saints’ 2022-23 relegation campaign.

Another canny opportunistic move, Livramento has kicked on from that long period in the treatment room and looks an excellent acquisition for Newcastle.

The club have nailed down Kieran Trippier’s long-term successor, while for now, he’s putting serious pressure on Dan Burn on the opposite flank.

QUIZ: Can you name every player Newcastle have signed for £10m+?

CB: Sven Botman

Widely regarded as one of the finest young defenders in Europe since his key role in Lille’s shock 2020-21 Ligue 1 title triumph, Botman has been one of those high-profile, big-money signings that’s actually lived up to his reputation.

The towering Dutchman had a quietly transformative impact on Newcastle’s defence. Results have been a little more mixed in an injury-hit second season, but you still trust he’ll be a dependable presence in Eddie Howe’s backline for many more years to come.

CB: Jan Paul van Hecke

A classic Brighton signing, this.

“He’s a young talent, a powerful defender who is comfortable on the ball and good in possession,” Ashworth said when the Seagulls signed the defender from NAC Breda back in 2020.

“The plan now is that he will go out on loan to a club in Europe for the season to continue his development.”

Sure enough, the Dutchmen went out to Heerenveen and Blackburn Rovers to get regular minutes before returning to The Amex and slowly but surely get integrated into the first-team set-up.

Ashworth only saw the fruits of his labour blossom after departing the south coast, but those kinds of investments on young prospects are a cornerstone of his successful career. Always planting seeds for the future.

LB: Marc Cucurella

Okay, Cucurella’s stock has plummeted since joining Chelsea, but the fact that made a £47million profit – bought for £15million, sold for £62million – tells you everything about the Spaniard’s stint at Brighton.

RW: Anthony Gordon

We’ve shunted Gordon away from his preferred wing due to an abundance of quality left-sided attackers.

The 22-year-old has featured on the right on the odd occasion for Newcastle this season and has demonstrated excellent versatility playing up front as England’s Young Lions won the Under-21 European Championship last summer.

Eyebrows were raised when Newcastle shelved out £45million to sign the youngster from Everton last January. He made little impact initially but has become one of their standout players in his first full season, more than justifying the fee.

An outside bet for England’s Euro 2024 squad.

DM: Moises Caicedo

Another colossal Brighton profit. Ashworth and Brighton put in the hard yards to sign Caicedo from Independiente del Valle.

Moises Caicedo of Ecuador celebrates scoring

READ: Recalling the time Man Utd could’ve signed Moises Caicedo for just €5million

CM: Adam Lallana

Ashworth was reportedly a “key driver” in Brighton signing Lallana from Liverpool on a free transfer back in 2020. The veteran midfielder’s experience has proven valuable in the Seagulls’ dressing room, while he could yet prove an asset when he hangs up his boots.

“Dan make it clear they offer a player-to-coach transition and I think that is very evident in what Bruno has done over the last couple of years,” Lallana said when he signed.

“I am very fortunate to have a lot of experience and to have worked with the very best.”

He later served as a caretaker coach following Graham Potter’s departure and has been talked up by Roberto De Zerbi as an important influence on the training pitch.

“Adam helps not only me and the coaches but the young players. He’s important on the pitch and out of the pitch,” De Zerbi said last season.

LW: Kauro Mitoma

“Yeah, I tried to get him but it was already almost done for him to go to Brighton,” Tottenham manager Ange Postecoglou reflected, admitting he tried to sign the Japanese winger whilst he was at Celtic.

“Him and Kyogo were the first two players I tried to bring across here. Mitoma would have been a good signing but unfortunately for us, Brighton also have a very good scouting network.

“They managed to pick him up but there was never any doubt in my mind that he was another one who was going to be a top player. He’s done really well down there, which hasn’t surprised me.”

Mitoma cost just £2.7million from Kawasaki Frontale back in 2021. He’s worth several dozen times that now, having notched 13 goals and 14 assists in 66 appearances for Brighton.

ST: Alexander Isak

As Manchester United fans will tell you, the success of the post-takeover project at Newcastle will live or die on their marquee, big-money signings.

They can’t afford high-profile missteps like Paul Pogba, Antony and Jadon Sancho – the kind of signings that Sir Jim Ratcliffe will be desperate to leave in the rearview mirror going forward.

Fortunately for Newcastle, their record signing has looked worth his £63million fee. While there are some minor question marks over his injury record, Isak has looked like an elite centre-forward when fit and available.

ST: Evan Ferguson

The Republic of Ireland international has been talked up as the Premier League’s next record-breaking transfer, with talk of commanding a £100million fee when the time comes to leave Brighton.

While he’s yet to explode consistently, the potential there is frightening. Ferguson has all the makings of a complete centre-forward and Ashworth played a key role in signing him as a nipper from Irish club Bohemians.

“I was always coming over [to England] for trials,” Ferguson explained.

“I came to Brighton and thought ‘that’s the club for me’. It was the people and the fact they showed a pathway – it made me feel as though it was the right club.

“I know some of the players have gone through the different leagues and stuff like that but I have only known Brighton being in the Premier League.”

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TRY A QUIZ: Can you name every Premier League club’s record signing?