Manchester United remain locked in talks with Ajax to see if they can reach agreement on the Antony transfer – and reports claim they have now set the Red Devils a new high mark if they want to land the Brazilian before the window closes.
Antony has remained United’s No 1 target for most of the summer. Their interest in him dates back several months and has been stepped up since Erik ten Hag’s confirmation as United manager. However, prising him away from Ajax has proved a tough nut to crack.
Indeed, United’s initial offer earlier in the summer was quickly batted away by Ajax. That left the Red Devils to go on to pursue other targets, with four new names arriving at the club since. Tyrell Malacia, Lisandro Martinez, Christian Eriksen and Casemiro have all signed up as Ten Hag looks to get his side upwardly mobile.
Now with just days left in the transfer window, United are stepping up their quest to land Antony. To that end, United saw a second offer, worth £76.3m (€90m) instantly rejected by Ajax on Friday.
That said, the Red Devils remain undeterred and remain on the Brazilian’s trail. They remain hopeful a deal can still be struck with Antony already agreeing personal terms and house-hunting in the area.
As such, the player remains determined to make the move to Old Trafford. He has made clear his wish to leave to Ajax, repeating those claims in a public statement on Friday evening.
“Since February of this year, my agents came to Amsterdam to inform Ajax of my desire to leave the club to face new challenge and that some interested clubs would arrive and with them, certainly a great offer,” said Antony.
Talks continue over Antony transfer
“In June of this year, I interrupted my vacation and came personally to inform the managers of Ajax, including new coach, about my wish to leave and that they should consider this possibility, because it was a project for two seasons.
“During the window months, meetings continued and I also received a proposal from Ajax for contract renewal. I made it clear once again: I want to leave.”
Reports claim Ajax are standing firm over their refusal to sell with the club now having insufficient time to sign a replacement. To that end, they are reportedly looking to sign Hakim Ziyech from Chelsea, though that deal has also hit two big snags.
Antony continued: “Today, in a meeting with the club, I expressed my old interest in leaving, only this time with a considerable offer on the table. Others had already arrived. Ajax refused with the argument that they only have five days to replace me.”
“I’m not asking Ajax to release me, I’m asking Ajax to sell me with the highest bid ever for Eredivisie player. I’ve been insisting on this theme since February so that the club could rebuild the team with peace of mind.
“People need to listen to me and understand that my motivation moves me towards happiness. I need this to continue performing at a high level. Ajax will always be in my heart.”
He concluded: “I hope Ajax fans understand me… because the future for a football player is a totally uncertain thing and the opportunities can be unique. My message is one of gratitude for Ajax, club and fans.”
Now, according to Sky Sports, talks over a potential deal are continuing. Citing a source, they claim Ajax are setting United a new £84.3m (€100m) asking price for the Antony transfer to go through.
United have two other deals on the agenda
As it stands, that appears higher than United are prepared to pay. However, talks between the clubs are continuing.
Sky Sports also raises the possibility that United will look to walk away from the deal if they fail to reach a breakthrough. They are keen to stress, however, that that point has not arrived.
They also claim the Red Devils continue to explore other options and could yet make two other signings before the window closes.
One of those is for Pierre-Emerick Aubayemang, whom Sky confirm is of interest to Ten Hag.
United remain at unsure whether Cristiano Ronaldo will stay or go before the window closes. Should he depart, they will need to replace his goals in the side, of which Aubameyang looks an obvious answer.
Barcelona are preparing to sell the striker for a fee of around £25m. Chelsea are hot on his trail, though a snag over his personal terms has opened the door for United to pounce.
United also remain in the hunt for Cody Gakpo. The PSV Eindhoven winger will cost around £35m and can reportedly leave if his asking price is met.
The Netherlands winger was reportedly on United’s list as an alternative to Antony if they fail to land the Brazilian. However, Sky Sports claim signing both Antony and Gakpo is “unlikely but not impossible”.