Manchester United would be landing “the Lionel Messi of sports business” if they hire Jean-Claude Blanc as their next chief executive, according to Nice CEO Fabrice Bocquet.
Blanc, who boasts vast experience of sports marketing and has spent time in football with both Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain, is the current head of sports activies with INEOS, the group fronted by Sir Jim Ratcliffe who are looking to complete a minority takeover of United.
In anticipation of INEOS’ arrival at Old Trafford, United have already confirmed the departure of former chief executive Richard Arnold. Patrick Stewart has taken the role on an interim basis but 90min understands Blanc is among the candidates being lined up as a potential replacement.
French side Nice, who are owned by INEOS and therefore work closely with Blanc, have had nothing but rave reviews about the Harvard graduate.
“We have known each other since I arrived in football in 2011. I really like him, it’s a real pleasure to work with him,” Nice president Jean-Pierre Rivere told L’Equipe. “He is extremely competent and he embodies everything I like on a human level, with real values. He is frank, humble, efficient, pleasant on a daily basis.”
Bocquet was also full of praise for Blanc, adding: “He is a bit like the Lionel Messi of sports business, it is not only a question of expertise but of interpersonal skills. He brings his vision, his network, his calm, his experience.”
Among Blanc’s greatest achievements in football was the construction of Juventus’ Allianz Stadium – a project which may appeal to many United fans who are keen to see Old Trafford rejuvenated after years of decline.
United are yet to make a final decision on their next CEO, with Blanc one of several names under consideration as INEOS seek to build a new hierarchy at the club.
Paul Mitchell, formerly of Monaco and RB Leipzig, is on the list of candidates for a sporting director role, with Sir Dave Brailsford, a colleague of Ratcliffe, also set to take up a role in the daily decision-making.