Two Premier League stars 'lead' Sir Jim Ratcliffe's Man Utd recruitment drive as Erik ten Hag decision made

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The INEOS chief looks set to invest heavily in the Manchester United squad this summer but Erik ten Hag's influence could be reduced.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe is planning to introduce a data-led approach to recruitment at Manchester United with reports naming Jarrad Branthwaite and Michael Olise as two priority targets for the summer.

Ratcliffe will be handed complete control of footballing operations at United, once his 28.9 per cent stake in the club is fully ratified by the Premier League. That process is expected to come to an end later this month and so the INEOS chief will have plenty of time to prepare for a summer of major change.

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Following the appointment of Omar Berrada as chief executive, Ratcliffe is expected to bring in a new sporting director before implementing a more sophisticated approach to scouting and signing players. The i reports that INEOS chiefs are planning to use data more prominently, as they have done with success at French side OGC Nice.

A move to data-led recruitment will see the influence of manager Erik ten Hag lessened, following a hit-and-miss 18-month period of incomings under his watch. Ten Hag actively pushed for signings based on his own preference, with the likes of Antony and Andre Onana - signed for £86million and £47.2m respectively - yet to fulfil their price-tags.

Ten Hag has spent more than £400m in two summer windows as United manager, both of which were followed by a quiet January, but has seen his side regress in recent months and key signings underwhelm. Questions have also been raised regarding the decision to spend £70m on a 30-year-old Casemiro in 2022.

Where Ratcliffe and Ten Hag do align is their desire to lower the age profile at United, an issue which Casemiro typifies. As such, links to young talent have been common and this recent report backs previous claims of interest in Branthwaite and Olise.

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Branthwaite, 21, has emerged as one of the Premier League's best young defenders in what has been an excellent individual season at Everton. His partnership with the experienced James Tarkowski is among the strongest in the division and the fact he is left-footed will do no harm, given the concern over who will cover for the injured Lisandro Martinez between now and his planned return in April.

As with Branthwaite, Olise is widely expected to leave his current club in the summer and make the step up. Currently at Crystal Palace, the 22-year-old is expected to be out for at least two months after coming back early from a hamstring issue and re-injuring it during Saturday's 4-1 defeat at Brighton.

Price-tags have varied greatly regarding both young players, but the four-year contract Olise signed in August is thought to contain a release clause significantly greater than the £35m in his previous deal. Securing Branthwaite will likely be more complex, with Everton thought to want close to £100m, although their dire financial situation means it will likely cost far less.

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