The Independent understands negotiations with Henrique have reached an advanced stage, with sources close to the 51-year-old believing a deal is near to being agreed.
However, Rangnick, currently Red Bull’s Head of Sport, is favoured by some senior figures at United, with the coveted former RB Leipzig coach and director preferring a move to the Premier League. The German has also been targeted by AC Milan, however, director of sport Paolo Maldini recently distanced the club from speculation, describing Rangnick as “not having the right profile”.
United’s hierarchy sees the technical director role – a position they’ve resisted in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era – as part of a longer-term vision encompassing all areas of the club as opposed to focusing solely on recruitment.
Regardless of the chosen candidate, executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward and Matt Judge are expected to still be an integral part of the club’s process of signing new players.
Henrique, who left his role as sporting director at Paris Saint-Germain after two seasons last summer, was handpicked by the club’s Qatari owners to oversee a transformative period for the club in which they signed Kylian Mbappe from Monaco, Neymar from Barcelona and Dani Alves from Juventus. Henrique was particularly influential in persuading Mbappe and his father to reject a move to Real Madrid.
Prior to that, Henrique spent 26 years at Porto, starting out in the club’s administrative department in 1990, rising to the position of sports director in 2005 and then chief executive and vice president of the club in 2010. During that time, he established personal relationships with a bulk of Europe’s top clubs and agents and was central to numerous lucrative sales, including Anderson to United, Jose Bosingwa to Chelsea, Radamel Falcao to Atletico Madrid and Pepe and Danilo to Real Madrid among others.
Rangnick, considered a pioneer of modern German football, is the architect behind the success of RB Leipzig and sister club RB Salzburg. He took over as sporting director of both clubs in 2012, before moving his focus solely to Leipzig in 2015, when he began one of two stints as head coach and transformed the club into Bundesliga contenders. He stepped down to take over as Red Bull’s Head of Sport in 2019, installing disciple Julian Nagelsmann as successor.
Rangnick has a renowned track record for identifying and developing young players, including Liverpool quartet Sadio Mane, Naby Keita, Firmino and Joel Matip, as well as summer transfer target Timo Werner.