‘Take it or leave it’: Qatari bidder declares crunch time for Manchester United

Prospective owner suggests that if his final bid is not accepted by Friday, he will walk away

Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al-Thani submitted a take-it-or-leave-it improved fifth and final offer of no more than £6bn to buy Manchester United this week, with the Qatari banker determined to disengage with the sale process on Friday if it is not accepted.

Sheikh Jassim and his advisers have become frustrated with the drawn-out process overseen by the Glazers, who put the club on the market in November. The Guardian has been told this has moved him to decide that Friday is the cut-off point for any further engagement, the implication being that if the bid is not accepted he will walk away. Sources close to Sheikh Jassim describe it as crunch time.

Sheikh Jassim is also conscious that if he is to become the owner it should be as soon as possible in order to give Erik ten Hag the optimum time to strengthen his squad in the transfer market.

Given the protracted nature of the process, which includes extended deadlines, it is unclear whether Sheikh Jassim really would end his interest should his self-imposed Friday deadline not be heeded. In line with his previous offers the latest one is for 100 per cent of the club.


One possibility is that he fears losing out to Jim Ratcliffe, the only other publicly declared bidder, who wishes to purchase a controlling interest in United, and so the improved offer is a last attempt to become proprietor. Ratcliffe, the Ineos owner, wants to acquire about 51 per cent of United and potentially leave one or more of the Glazers with a minority share. Ineos has reportedly been in talks with the Glazers over the structure of such an agreement but it is understood the company does not believe a deal is imminent.

The Sheikh believes that his offer represents the better option because it would erase a debt of about £1bn (€1.16 billion), is in cash, offers a separate fund for player, infrastructure and other investment requirements and gives a high value for each share.

Meanwhile, Manchester United have identified the Napoli centre back Kim Min-jae as their main target to strengthen in defence. The South Korea international’s release clause will be valid in July and United are in contact with his agents.

Newcastle are also interested in the 26-year-old, who joined Napoli from Fenerbahce last July and was an important part of their Serie A title success. Manchester United are understood to be monitoring the French market for fallback options if they do not land Kim, who played in South Korea and China before moving to Turkey in 2021.

This will be a busy transfer window for Ten Hag and he is ready to allow players including Harry Maguire, Dean Henderson and Donny van de Beek to leave. United’s manager does not intend to keep Wout Weghorst, who has been on loan from Burnley. The striker has attracted interest from Everton and clubs in Spain and Germany and would cost about £8.5m.

Maguire is due to discuss his future with Ten Hag next week and there is a mutual realisation that a parting of the ways would be best. Maguire has fallen down the pecking order at United and the pursuit of Kim is another indication that his future lies elsewhere. The 30-year-old wants regular football, which he knows would strengthen his chances of keeping his England place.

Van de Beek is to explore transfer options after failing to hold down a place, going on loan to Everton and missing most of this season through injury. With United trying to strengthen in midfield and in talks over a deal for Chelsea’s Mason Mount, Van de Beek accepts it is time to leave and expects to be fit for preseason training.

Henderson is close to joining Nottingham Forest, where the goalkeeper was on loan last season, on a permanent deal. -Guardian