A potential Qatari takeover at Manchester United could see the club establish formal links with foreign sides as part of a ‘network’.
The Daily Record report Manchester United could be placed at the ‘summit’ of a multi-team model.
This would not be too dissimilar to Manchester City’s partnerships with New York City FC, Girona, Melbourne City among others.
United could end up affiliated with Paris Saint-Germain, and Portuguese club Braga, who are majority owned by PSG’s owners QSI.
Qatari investor Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad bin Jaber Al Thani is not part of QSI, however, it doesn’t require a big leap of faith to see a partnership being struck, especially when you trace back the connections in the Qatari Royal Family.
Benefits of a multi-club model
A multi-club model could also be part of Manchester United’s future if Sir Jim Ratcliffe‘s takeover bid is successful.
Ratcliffe’s Ineos already own French side Nice and Swiss team Lausanne. So this is not an idea exclusive to the Qatari bid.
Brexit rules introduced in 2020 mean Manchester United cannot currently sign non UK players under 18. This would have meant deals for Alejandro Garnacho and Hannibal Mejbri could not have been struck.
Having a satellite club could essentially circumvent these rules, and also help with work permit issues. United have been reluctant to sign young players from South America in particularly over the past decade.
The Athletic reported in 2021 that United were open to the idea of a partner club. Head of development Nick Cox told the BBC that Brexit had created an uneven playing field.
Braga, named in the report, could also be a very useful loan destination for players on the cusp of United’s first team.
Manchester United is a high pressurised environment for young players to learn and develop in. Having a club where they can gain experience competitively, could be valuable for all parties.
Braga’s best players
PSG would not become a feeder club for Manchester United. But Portuguese side Braga might be.
The Daily Record reports: “Senior QSI executives envisage deploying Braga as a development club for both PSG and United.
“Elite talents would be signed from European and South American football then moved to Portugal to gain experience in Braga’s first team before being transferred up the multi-club system to the Premier League or Ligue 1.”
Braga are third in Portugal’s top division, six points ahead of Europa League quarter-finalists Sporting.
While this could be a case of United signing teenage players specifically to station at Braga for a couple of seasons, the Portuguese side already have some interesting talents.
Abel Ruiz: Former Barcelona striker, 23, capped twice by Spain. He scored 10 goals in 19 games for Spain’s under-21 side. This is his first season in Portugal and he has nine goal contributions so far.
Sikou Niakhate: Braga have Niakhate, 23, on loan from French side Valenciennes and are expected to exercise an ‘option to buy’ in June. The Malian centre-back began his career in PSG’s academy and has made 24 appearances so far this season.
Simon Banza: French striker Banza, 26, joined from Lens last summer. He has struck 10 goals in 19 games and is the club’s top scorer.