Erik ten Hag's £69m transfer option is bad news for two Man Utd stars on comeback trail
Erik ten Hag is keen to spend big this summer in order to rebuild Manchester United, though some may question how much he is willing to splash on his frontline considering the options he already has
Erik ten Hag is expected to kickstart his rebuild of Manchester United soon, though his determination to sign Antony may be ill-placed.
It is no secret that drastic change is needed at Old Trafford following an embarrassing campaign under the management of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and then Ralf Rangnick. Performances were consistently underwhelming, the dressing room was forever disjointed and leaks of unhappiness behind the scenes aided no cause.
A summer revamp is certainly what the club needs, and Ten Hag looks keen to press on with that. However, reports have circulated that the former Ajax boss wants to reunite with Antony – who is reportedly valued at £69million by the Eredivisie outfit.
The Brazil international scored eight and assisted four in 23 league appearances last season, and if United do fork out anything near the price tag that Ajax desire then the winger will be expecting to be one of the first names on the team sheet at the club – perhaps at the consequence of those who could help the Red Devils become the club they once were.
Despite arriving as a right-winger, it is widely reported that the belief at United is that Jadon Sancho will play on the left going forward to make use of his desire to cut inside and influence play through the middle. But there is also Marcus Rashford and Anthony Elanga competing for places on the flanks – as well as Anthony Martial now that he has returned from his loan spell at Sevilla.
Although none of the aforementioned forwards lit up the Premier League last season, Rashford and Sancho have certainly shown previously that they are capable of competing at the very top level. Thus, one would assume that if Ten Hag focused his energy on getting the best out of his England internationals, £69m may be better spent elsewhere.
Scoring goals wasn’t a significant issue for United last season, it was rather the rate in which they were conceding them. Adding another goalscorer into the mix is never a bad thing for any club, but whether it is the right time for the Red Devils to do so is open to interpretation. They let in more goals than Liverpool and Manchester City in the 2021/22 campaign.
The defensive pairing of Harry Maguire and Raphael Varane struggled to fill United fans with confidence, whilst fringe players like Phil Jones, Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof couldn’t steady the sinking ship of their backline either. With five-time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo already spearheading the United attack for another campaign and a selection of proven wingers already on the clubs’ books, Ten Hag must see a lot in Antony for him to potentially greenlight a £69m move.
Of course, the manager has indicated that strengthening his defence is important given his interest in centre-back Jurrien Timber – who reportedly has shied away from the transfer at risk of losing his spot in the Netherlands international team. If the Antony move goes ahead for the said fee, he will become the fifth-most expensive player in the club's history in a moment where investment is needed quite literally all over the pitch. Only time will tell how Ten Hag divides up his transfer budget and whether Antony will significant hinder his business later down the line, and how important that will be in the immediate future.