The race to buy Manchester United has seen a controversial twist amid reports Nasser Al-Khelaifi has 'played a significant role' in Sheikh Jassim's takeover bid.
Qatari royal Sheikh Jassim is one of two remaining potential buyers interested in purchasing the Premier League club, along with INEOS founder Sir Jim Ratcliffe. The Glazer family's time in control of the club is expected to end this summer, with Sheikh Jassim's 'Nine Two Foundation' believed to be interested in a complete buy-out.
The Athletic reported Paris Saint-Germain president Al-Khelaifi has acted in an advisory role for the latter after he was approached for advice on United's valuation.
READ MORE: Sheikh Jassim makes late decision on final Man Utd bid hours before Glazers' deadline
It's understood the Glazers were seeking somewhere in the region of a world-record £6.4billion to sell United at first. However, Sheikh Jassim's 'fifth and final bid' is believed to be worth £5bn and would see his consortium own the club outright, returning United entirely to private investment.
Al-Khelaifi was reportedly contacted by the Glazers in an attempt to convince Sheikh Jassim to up his takeover bid. However, The Athletic suggested the PSG supremo has remained close to negotiations, helping Sheikh Jassim's team navigate between the Glazers and Raine Group, the American bank in charge of the sale.
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While Sheikh Jassim and the Nine Two Foundation are seeking to purchase 100% of United, Ratcliffe's offer would see him take just a majority share at first. His plan would see at least some of the six Glazer siblings retain minority stakes in the club initially before taking over those shares at a later juncture.
It's for that reason many fans have expressed favour towards Sheikh Jassim's bid in the hope of ending the Glazer connection. However, there are concerns with the royal's connection to Qatar and allowing another sovereign state with a questionable human rights record taking control of another European powerhouse.
Furthermore, there are suggestions Sheikh Jassim has had very little to do with the consortium's takeover efforts, raising doubts as to who is actually in charge of the Nine Two Foundation's affairs. The 44-year-old former heir to Qatar's throne keeps a very low profile and was practically unheard of prior to the takeover bid's announcement.
By contrast, Al-Khelaifi is already a very public figure and former pro tennis player with extensive experience running one of Europe's superpowers in Paris. The 49-year-old serves as chair of the state-run beIN Media Group and was appointed to the same role with the European Club Association (ECA) in 2021.
It was reported earlier in 2023 that Al-Khelaifi was part of a team that discussed a £1bn investment in Tottenham with the club's chairman, Daniel Levy. Those developments already raised suspicions regarding Qatar setting up shop in the Premier League, and it's now suspected those plans could materialise at Old Trafford.
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