Man Utd have an open goal to start Sir Jim Ratcliffe era with early £34m transfer

Sir Jim Ratcliffe and INEOS will consider recording a successful first summer transfer window in charge of football operations at Manchester United as crucial. The Red Devils’ new kingpin can make a perfect start by addressing one of Erik ten Hag’s most prominent problem positions with a straightforward deal.

Ratcliffe is expected to commence his rebuild with a ruthless exodus as United find themselves needing to sell to buy, with Financial Fair Play limitations rife.

Several likely departures would free up transfer funds and space on the wage bill to help Ten Hag – or a new manager – upgrade a squad that is at risk of producing the club’s worst-ever Premier League season.

Raphael Varane and Anthony Martial are among those almost certain to leave, joining Tom Heaton and Jonny Evans out of contract in June.

Replacing the former will be a priority, and Ratcliffe has the opportunity to solve that problem with a minimum of fuss in the early stages of the window.

One tool United have this summer that they haven’t had before is a sister club in INEOS-owned OGC Nice, and the Ligue 1 outfit can offer a perfect successor to Varane.

Since leaving Barcelona for the south of France in 2021, Jean-Clair Todibo has flourished into one of Europe’s most highly rated centre-backs.

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The 24-year-old is almost guaranteed to leave Nice this summer amid heavyweight interest in his signature from the Premier League and beyond.

United have been strongly linked with a potential swoop, which is perhaps to be expected considering the easy connection with the club’s new co-owner.

But the Old Trafford giants’ interest was present before Ratcliffe secured a 27.7 per cent stake in February.

Todibo was featured on Ten Hag’s shortlist of possible alternatives to Harry Maguire last summer before the former United captain’s £30million move to West Ham United collapsed.

The France international is expected to cost around £34m, the same fee United paid to sign Varane from Real Madrid in the same year he left rivals Barcelona.

Todibo will be the subject of wider interest. However, United have a significant advantage, considering their co-owners will know what bids arrive in Nice’s mailbox, removing the risk of overpaying.

An opportunity to return to Catalonia could turn Todibo’s head, but the prospect of replacing his fellow countryman in M16 is a tempting one.

Ratcliffe and INEOS can set themselves up for a much-needed productive summer by overseeing his switch from Nice to United sooner rather than later.


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