Manchester United are on the verge of hiring a data scientist to help provide research across several areas at the club, according to reports.

The Red Devils have distanced themselves from appointing a director of football, despite reports suggesting they were considering a number of ex-players for the role last year.

Rio Ferdinand and Edwin van der Sar were touted as potential options, but Ed Woodward remains the man in control of transfer dealings at Old Trafford.

Having missed out on key targets such as Jadon Sancho and Jude Bellingham, Woodward managed to wrap up deals for Edinson Cavani, Alex Telles and Facundo Pellistri late on in the summer transfer window.

Ed Woodward remains the man in control of transfer dealings at Manchester United

He also added Donny van de Beek to their ranks much earlier in the window, meaning Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was eventually left delighted with their summer business.

And according to The Athletic, United are now set to appoint a data scientist to support research across a number of areas at the club.

Head of football development John Murtough is said to have drawn up a shortlist containing just a handful of candidates.

But Joel Glazer (left) is keen to add a data scientist to their ranks to relieve Woodward of some pressure

Woodward and owner Joel Glazer will then run the rule over their credentials before having the final say on which applicant lands the job.

It is believed a decision will be made within a month, with United targeting a “more corporate external hire” - possibly from a pharmaceutical background.

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They are keen to employ a specialist who can study data across a range of performance indicators, including medical and recruitment.

However, the chosen candidate will also be expected to involve themselves with the business side of the club.

United are reportedly moving to establish their own research unit in similar fashion to arch-rivals Liverpool.

United want to establish their own research unit in similar fashion to arch-rivals Liverpool, who appointed a theoretical physicist to help with injury prevention, on-field performance and recruitment
United want to establish their own research unit in similar fashion to arch-rivals Liverpool, who appointed a theoretical physicist to help with injury prevention, on-field performance and recruitment

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The Premier League champions have hired Dr Ian Graham, who boasts a Cambridge degrees in theoretical physics, to help improve their record on injury prevention and conditioning, along with on-field performance and recruitment.

Glazer and Woodward are understood to have been plotting a similar approach at Old Trafford for several months, and the former is keen for them to press on with it after being slowed down by the coronavirus pandemic.