Manchester United are reportedly ahead of several sides in the race to sign Ajax winger Antony – with the attacker seemingly poised to become the first signing of the Erik ten Hag era.
The Red Devils expect to confirm the appointment of the 52-year-old after the weekend. With a verbal agreement now in place, Ten Hag’s appointment as the full-time successor to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on an initial three-year deal is imminent. He also is expected to become the highest-paid Dutch manager in the history of the Premier League.
Ten Hag’s immediate priority will be to finalise his backroom team, with his long-time associate Steve McClaren reportedly set for a return to Old Trafford.
Come the summer, Ten Hag will begin fixing his attention towards the addressing the Manchester United squad. To that end, a report has recently claimed that up to 11 players will be allowed to leave.
And it seems the Dutchman has handed United chiefs a list of potential recruits. Somewhat ambitious given some of the names on the list, Ten Hag seemingly wants a new striker, a new defender and a new midfielder.
Clearly though, adding to United’s attack this summer will be high on Ten Hag’s agenda.
With Anthony Martial and Edinson Cavani likely to leave, it remains to be seen if Cristiano Ronaldo will also soon follow suit. His future appears to be tied in entirely with United’s Champions League prospects. And failure to book their place in the competition again next season may well see the Portuguese superstar depart.
In terms of replacements, United would surely be unable to prise long-term target Harry Kane away from Tottenham. A £150m valuation, together with United’s current status, would surely make such a deal impossible.
Darwin Nunez an option
Perhaps more modestly, Manchester United are being strongly linked with a move for Darwin Nunez.
The Uruguayan striker is likely to leave Benfica this summer if a suitor stumps up his £67m asking price.
United are also reportedly keen on a move for Antony.
The Brazil star has thrived under Ten Hag for Ajax this season and is reportedly on his list of targets at the Red Devils.
Now, as per Tutto Juve, United are favourites to sign the 22-year-old.
The claim United have the edge over all his other suitors, which include Juventus and Bayern Munich.
Reporting that the pair ‘both like Antony a lot’, the duo now accept they are destined to miss out due to United’s involvement.
As such, it’s now expected that United will get a deal done and that Antony will become the first signing of the Ten Hag era.
The nine-times capped Brazil star has 12 goals and 10 assists from 33 appearances this season.
Antony temperament questioned
That said, Antony’s temperament has been questioned in the media by two Dutch pundits.
A controversial character, Antony’s hot-temper and sometimes-questionable behaviour have led some to doubt his credentials.
In Ajax’s come-from-behind victory over Feyenoord on March 20, Antony scored a late 86th-minute winner. He celebrated the goal by removing his shirt and thus received a yellow card.
Antony then saw red moments later when brandished a second yellow card to leave Ajax a man light for the final moments.
That drew the ire of two former Dutch internationals – Rene van der Gijp and Wim Kieft.
Van der Gijp said: “Suppose we are in the stands together as a scout for Manchester City or Liverpool… And we are looking at Antony, what do you think we would say when we come back on Monday?
“We will not take that. You don’t see a Serge Gnabry, Leroy Sane or Mohamed Salah doing this? Then you can say: he is young, but it can also get crazier.”
Kieft added: “He is not that young anymore, because he has been doing this for two years. Such a boy cannot be calmed by a coach, in the end.
“Ten Hag will of course never say that Antony behaves like an idiot, but he thinks so. In general, this behaviour is addressed in the locker room, then someone says: hey, what are you doing?”
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