Saudi prince steps up $5bn bid for Man Utd to tempt Glazers to sell before next season: Report
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS) is making a £3.8bn ($4.9bn) takeover bid for Manchester United in the hope of becoming the new owner by next season, the Sun newspaper reported, without citing any sources.
The reported bid comes as United chiefs have been spending an increasing amount of time in Saudi Arabia. Last week, Manchester director Richard Arnold made his second trip there, sparking talk about a takeover, though the owners had claimed the club was not for sale, Tribal Football reported.
The Saudi royal, whose family is worth about $1tn, may be betting the present owners, the American Glazer family, can be tempted into selling by the sheer scale of his offer.
MBS, 33, reportedly wants to buy Manchester United to take on Man City, owned by Sheikh Mansour of the Abu Dhabi royal family.
Man City has become one of the world's best club teams as Mansour has made huge investments in it over the past decade, according to the Daily Mail.
The Daily Mail contacted Manchester United over a potential takeover offer, but they declined to comment on "speculation".
The Glazers bought United for £790m almost 14 years ag0 but saddled the club with significant debt. Still, it seems like it would work out pretty well for them if they do sell, making a £2.2bn profit, said the Sun.
SunSport first reported the Saudi interest in October, and that buying the club outright was the top choice of the Saudi prince.
The skids were put under a potential offer after MBS became embroiled in a diplomatic scandal when journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered by a Saudi hit team in early October, which has renewed criticism of the kingdom's rights record.
The CIA concluded that the Saudi operation was probably directed by the powerful MBS, but the White House has sidestepped that finding amid strenuous denials by Riyadh, a key US ally.
The present near $5bn valuation is dependent on manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer delivering Manchester United a place in next season's Champions League, with a deal unlikely to be agreed before their qualification is confirmed.
Should United fall short, a compromise may be reached at a lower valuation, according to the Sun.