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Brighton and Hove Albion CEO Paul Barber insists Man United must pay compensation for Dan Ashworth if they want him early

Newcastle United placed Dan Ashworth on gardening leave on February 19 after he indicated he wanted to join Manchester United.

Brighton & Hove Albion’s Chief Executive Officer Paul Barber has now told the Red Devils to pay the required compensation if they want him early.

The Magpies want almost £15 million to release Ashworth from his 20-month gardening leave period and are prepared to bide their time if an agreement cannot be reached.

However, Man United are determined they will not be held to ransom, and Barber believes they may need to reach a compromise to land him.

“I like Dan a lot – he is a friend and I enjoyed working with him,” the Seagulls chief told The Athletic.

“But in an area like technical director, Dan will be very aware that he was paid whatever he was paid at Newcastle and they had a notice period to protect him.

“He will be very aware that it goes both ways because he went through it with us. And so then the ball is in Manchester United’s court. If they decide they will pay it and accelerate him joining, that’s their choice.

“Gardening leave? I keep joking with Dan that if he does any more he’ll be the most skilled landscape gardener in the country, but that’s the nature of our business.

“If clubs are going to take each other’s staff, then there has to be financial compensation to shorten the notice period, or they have got to expect there is going to be a long wait.

“And the long wait is designed to protect our processes, our targets, our thinking. It’s only fair and Dan is a very fair guy. He will be the first to accept that this is the way it is, and the ball is in Sir Jim’s (Ratcliffe’s) court.”

The Red Devils want Ashworth to start his role as their sporting director before the summer transfer window. They do not have much time left, with the market opening in June.

Brighton put Ashworth on gardening leave before compensation was eventually agreed with Newcastle, triggering the completion of his move three months later in February 2022.

Man United can get their man early if they follow suit, and Ratcliffe will be desperate to get the deal done as soon as possible.

CEO Omar Berrada has already joined the Old Trafford club from Manchester City and will start work in the summer. Crystal Palace sporting director Dougie Freedman has emerged as the favourite to become their new head of recruitment.

Man United need the trio working together during the summer transfer window and must find a way to reach an agreement with Newcastle.