Man United chief scout Javier Ribalta joins Zenit St. Petersburg as sporting director

Javier Ribalta, who joined Manchester United as their chief scout just 13 months ago, has left the club to become the sporting director at Zenit St. Petersburg.

Ribalta, 37, signed a deal until 2020-21, Zenit announced on Tuesday. Sources told ESPN FC last week that Ribalta would make the move.

In a statement, Ribalta said he was looking forward to not only strengthening the club, but also giving "special attention" to Zenit's youth academy.

"I am very happy that I have become part of such a club," Ribalta said. "I have seen the victorious photos that adorn the Zenit offices and I want the club to be able to feel these emotions once again."

Ribalta joined United after five years at Juventus, where he was highly regarded for his work in driving the club's policy of pursuing and signing free agents. He also worked as a scout at Torino and AC Milan before becoming the chief scout at Novara Calcio.

At United, Ribalta was hired to work with head of global scouting Marcel Bout and chief scout Jim Lawlor. The club have not yet said whether he will be replaced.