Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Ten Hag told Ajax have him in transfer trap, with Man Utd in ‘very awkward’ Antony, Martinez position

New Man Utd boss Erik ten Hag

Manchester United will simply have to stump up Ajax’s asking price for Antony and their other targets because the Dutch club have no need to sell, an expert has said.

New United boss Erik ten Hag is trying to bolster his ranks in his first transfer window in charge ahead of the new season. The former Ajax coach, who left the Eredivisie giants at the end of last term, is trying to use his connections there as a leg up.

Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong, whose form at Ajax under Ten Hag earned him the La Liga move, is a top target.

And a deal for the 25-year-old is finally going smoothly, with a deal close to completion.

However, Ten Hag and Man Utd are struggling when it comes to targets currently starring for Ajax. Attacker Antony and centre-back Lisandro Martinez are on the Dutchman’s radar, but the price for both players is off-putting for United.

Speaking to Sky Sports, though, Dutch football expert Marcel van der Kraan insisted that United have no other option than to pay the going rate. Indeed, Ajax are in a comfortable financial position.

“Martinez has two offers from England, one is from Arsenal and one is from Manchester United,” Van der Kraan said.

“But when I say ‘offer’, that’s been an offer to his agent to discuss things and there is not an absolute concrete money offer on the table yet.

“But that could soon happen. Then again, Martinez is an expensive one because Ajax are demanding £45million-£50million.”

Ajax demanding top Man Utd investment

Ajax winger Antony lifting the Eredivisie trophy

“Why is this? Ajax have no need to sell any more players,” Van der Kraan added. “They have the money, they are financially OK and they have said if anybody comes in for Martinez or Antony, for instance, who is worth €80million in the eyes of Ajax.

“You could debate that, but the prices they’re asking are absolutely huge because they have no need to sell.

“They know that Man Utd, like many clubs at this moment in Europe, need players so it’s a very awkward position Manchester United are in at this moment.”

Initial reports claimed that United initially thought that £40million would be enough for Brazilian forward Antony. However, more recent claims have put the 22-year-old’s price tag at €80million (£68million).

Top centre-backs have become expensive in recent seasons, with Argentina star Martinez no different.

United must invest wisely

United know they are at the start of a tough rebuilding process, the first stages of which they have to get right.

The club have faced criticism in the past for spending big money on and offering big wages to players who have ultimately flopped.

In their current predicament, though, teams are asking for a premium as they know United need the players.

It is therefore up to Old Trafford chiefs to get the decision over transfer additions absolutely right this summer.

Big-money transfers always come with risks and Ten Hag must decide to either look elsewhere or go after the players he knows best at Ajax.

Even so, Antony is an alternative target after Man Utd walked away from a deal for new Liverpool striker Darwin Nunez.