Paul Mitchell, one of the most sought after Head’s of Recruitment in world football, is currently being linked to a job at Manchester United.
Although it is unclear exactly what role he could play at the Manchester club, Mitchell could take one of the recently vacated positions of Head of Global Scouting or Chief Scout, given his past in roles such as Head of Recruitment and Development at RB Leipzig, or Chief Scout at Tottenham Hotspur.
Before his time at the two Champions League semi-finalists, Mitchell started his career as Chief Scout of MK Dons, acquiring England International and former Man United man Alan Smith in 2012 before moving to Southampton, where he oversaw their promotion to the Premier League and the recruitment of Sadio Mane, a now Ballon D’Or contender.
He then teamed up for a second time with Mauricio Pochettino in North London, a man heavily linked to the managers job at United before it was popularly awarded to Erik Ten Hag. In 2017, he then moved onto RB Leipzig.
Here, Mitchell went from Head of Youth Scouting to Chief Scout in under a year, building a relationship with current United boss, Ralf Rangnick, in a time that witnessed the successful signings of players like Amadou Haidara, a Mali international linked to the Red Devils in January.
It is said that Rangnick is the main figure behind the club's push for Mitchell, with the Englishman describing them as ‘close friends’. Despite the suspected ‘jobs for the boys’ culture in recent times at Manchester United, this is a recommendation that many fans would love to endorse.
Why is he so wanted amongst the fans?
Apart from being someone who's last name isn’t 'Glazer' or 'Woodward', United fans want him for valid reasons.
Mitchell is renowned for finding gems that a club develops into top talents, which is something Manchester United rarely do. Out of the clubs previous 21 signings since Head of Negotiations Matt Judge joined and left, you could very possibly count the successful signings on one finger, let alone one hand. So, in a time where the club are seemingly headed in a new direction, Mitchell could be exactly the person the club needs. In a recent press conference, Ralf Rangnick explained how the club, ‘should try to find future top star players and develop them’, a strategy that Mitchell could fit into perfectly.
The Manc-born-man has worked with clubs of varying size, so regardless of the budget given to him, he’ll find the perfect candidate for every demand. This is because he has an eye for talent, a skill that has let him recruit La Liga winner and World Cup semi-finalist Kieran Trippier for £3.5million, or a player who’s hit double-digits in both goals and assists in the Bundesliga this season in Christopher Nkunku, for just £11.7million.
‘Ok, so who might he try and sign for United if he joins?’
If Mitchell is appointed a role at Carrington, he would likely look for more of the same. This will go down well with most fans, who are seemingly in a state of hangover from big name signings such as Paul Pogba or Harry Maguire, who combine to cost £170million- money that Mitchell could have a field day with.
Looking at the main problems in the starting XI (though it would be easier to count the non-problems), Mitchell could be tasked with scouting a defensive midfielder, a striker, and a centre-back.
Looking at the number 6 spot, Boubacar Kamara is a player that springs to mind. Throughout the 2021-22 season, the Marseille man has attracted attention from clubs all over Europe. As well as being a free agent in the summer transfer window, the 22 year old boasts top positioning and defensive awareness, as well as a good number of duels won, making him a solid option.
Moving onto the centre back role, Ten Hag may look to bring an Ajax player with him. Considering United need a ball-playing centre back, Mitchell could look to Jurrien Timber. The 20 year old Dutchman ranks highly in Europe in terms of progressive passes into the final third, which acts as a good counterbalance for Kamara’s potential lack in attack-minded passing.
As for a striker option, the profile would depend on Ten Hag’s system. In his Ajax side that reached a Champions League semi-final, the team had no distinct number 9 in their already fluid team, using Dusan Tadic as a focal point.
Tadic is a player Mitchell knows a lot about, having signed him for Southampton in 2014, and could offer a solution for Man United if Ten Hag wanted him. Having spent four years in the Premier League, the Serbian international may take less time to adapt, and has been a critical part of Ajax’s side. At 33 years old, he is not a young player who can be developed, however this could come as a positive, as the potential lack of desire to start every game could make way for Cristiano Ronaldo, someone who cannot be benched frequently if he stays in red this summer.
Despite these options, no one really knows what Mitchell would do if he came to the club, however he is a man that Rangnick and fans alike would trust to help take the club in the right direction, so poses as an exciting candidate for the future.