Man Utd told two signings should’ve stayed away one more year, as Arsenal rejection comes to light

Man Utd trio Cristiano Ronaldo, Antony and Lisandro Martinez

Arsenal were given a “firm no” when pursuing an Ajax star who then joined Man Utd, while Edwin van der Sar has called the conduct of Antony into question.

Both Manchester United and Arsenal bid multiple times for Lisandro Martinez last summer. Arsenal hoped to convert the Argentine into a left-back in order to compete with Kieran Tierney, per the Athletic.

United, meanwhile, had no concerns over Martinez’s height preventing him from playing centre-half.

Ultimately, the Red Devils won the race, with Martinez quickly establishing himself as Erik ten Hag’s No 1 centre-back and Arsenal turning to Oleksandr Zinchenko instead.

However, Ajax chief executive, Edwin van der Sar, has opened up on the sale of both Martinez and Antony to Man Utd, and explained why neither should’ve moved when they did.

The former United goalkeeper revealed Ajax gave a “firm no” to Arsenal not long before Martinez then joined United.

Van der Sar and his fellow Ajax chiefs were seemingly of the belief they’d retain Martinez, though the finances on show proved too good to ignore.

“It was our opinion they should stay for another year,” said Van der Sar, as quoted by The Times. “We gave a firm ‘no’ to Arsenal when they came first for Lisandro; we fought hard to keep him.

Why did Ajax relent?

Martinez went on to join Man Utd in a deal worth around £56.7m. He wouldn’t be the only Ajax star to reunite with Ten Hag.

Antony also walked that same route on deadline day. The Brazilian winger was valued around the £50m mark in the window’s early stages, though Manchester United ultimately forked out around £85m.

“It was [an] economic [decision] but it was a hard one to take,” continued Van der Sar. “We knew there was interest but not at that level and it was too late to find a good replacement.

“I don’t think the way [Antony] handled it was the correct one, but it’s important all the players who leave Ajax have success because it reflects well on us.”

Man Utd deal leaves bitter aftertaste

Van der Sar’s comments around Antony are in reference to his antics and an interview he conducted in the window’s final week.

Antony missed training and was forced to work alone in the club’s facilities. He was subsequently dropped for what would’ve been his final Ajax match as a result.

As the deadline neared and with Antony still in Amsterdam, the winger conducted an emotional interview with Fabrizio Romano and called into question Ajax’s handling of the saga amid claims of broken promises.

The end result did see Antony make the switch, though clearly, it’s left a bitter taste at Ajax.

On the subject of Ten Hag, Van der Sar described his club’s former manager as “relentless”. He also suggested the early signs of something promising are brewing at Old Trafford.

He concluded: “We saw the work Erik has done when he established himself as a young coach. He’s relentless, he wants to achieve as much as possible.

“The training exercises, the way he wants to play, it is coming into a picture.”

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