Manchester United transfer target Antony has issued an update amid links that the Red Devils are close to signing him from Ajax, a move that make him Erik ten Hag’s first addition of the summer window
Antony has poured cold water on speculation that the reason he was absent from Ajax’s first pre-season training session was because of a potential move to Manchester United.
The 22-year-old, who worked under Red Devils manager Erik ten Hag in Amsterdam for two years until May, is the subject of interest from Old Trafford. Reports earlier this week claimed his transfer was “only a matter of time” after United opened talks with his representatives. After excitement from fans on Friday, however, it appears that Antony was simply missing from new boss Alfred Schreuder ‘s first batch due to being afforded a longer break than some of his teammates.
Having last featured in March due to an ankle injury picked up on international duty with Brazil, the winger is still bringing himself back to full fitness. Antony took to Instagram on Saturday to show his progress, sharing multiple clips from Ajax ‘s gym. Captioning one of the videos of him of running, the ex- Sao Paulo starlet wrote: “The season has officially begun!! Focus on the recovery!!”
While the Eredivisie champions have slapped a £69 million asking price on Antony’s head, Schreuder is also desperate to keep the right-sided dynamo in his ranks, having already lost star striker Sebastien Haller to Borussia Dortmund as well as both midfielder Ryan Gravenberch and defender Noussair Mazraoui to Bayern Munich.
“Clearly, we want to keep the boy,” Schreuder told ESPN in a response to Antony’s transfer links. “He has a contract until 2025, but I’m not about that [any individual players]. I’m about the squad and I really want to work with him. He knows that and the club know that too.”
Mirror Football understands that Ajax are not prepared to have their team torn apart by Ten Hag, who is keen to reunite with multiple members of his old squad in Manchester such as centre-back duo Jurrien Timber and Lisandro Martinez. The Red Devils manager is a big fan of Antony in particular, though, fresh off enjoying a sensational second season under Ten Hag’s tutelage.
“If Antony were to go, it would be a loss for Ajax,” Ten Hag admitted to De Telegraaf in May. “You have no one in the current squad who can take over his position. He is top class.” The 52-year-old had declared earlier that month: “Without Antony, it is all a bit less fast and dynamic on the right, which also makes it more difficult for the team. Then the spaces become a lot smaller.”
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The samba star bagged six goals and assists in seven Champions League games last term, while contributing 12 in the league as Ajax stormed to the Dutch title for the second year running.
In a classy farewell video to Ten Hag after United appointed him towards the end of the campaign, Antony said: “I want to wish you all the best at your new club. I also want to thank you for everything you taught me. I am thankful for all the opportunities and learning every day. Know that I will always stand with you if you need me.”