Ten Hag at fault for expensive Man Utd error with 15-goal attacker ‘much better’ than Antony

Antony, Man Utd v Real Sociedad, September 2022

A Ballon d’Or winner has questioned why Erik ten Hag pursued Antony when Manchester United could have signed a ‘much better’ attacker for far less in last year’s summer transfer window.

Man Utd agreed a deal with Ajax for Antony on August 30. As per Sky Sports, the Red Devils agreed to pay Ajax a whopping £86million for the winger.

Man Utd announced Antony’s signing on September 1, with the Brazil international penning a five-year contract at Old Trafford.

Man Utd had initially been put off Antony by Ajax’s high asking price. But Ten Hag told them he was extremely keen to add Antony to his squad and this saw the club go back into negotiations with their Dutch counterparts, with the £86m agreement eventually being reached.

Antony has managed five goals and one assist in 23 matches for Man Utd so far. He started off well, notching goals in three consecutive Premier League games back in September and October. However, Antony’s goal contributions have dried up somewhat since then, while he has also been accused of not being direct enough and opting to take on a defender multiple times rather than getting the ball into the box.

The 22-year-old is currently recovering from a leg injury. But when he returns he might struggle to get back into Ten Hag’s starting eleven. The manager has found success with a front four of Marcus Rashford, Wout Weghorst, Bruno Fernandes and Jadon Sancho.

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Dutch legend Marco van Basten, who won the Ballon d’Or three times between 1988 and 1992, has now criticised Ten Hag for the capture of Antony by saying Man Utd should have gone after Ajax’s Mohammed Kudus instead.

“I find Mohammed Kudus a much better football player than Antony,” Van Basten said in an interview with Ziggo Sport. “Antony has his skills, but he is confused with the things he is trying to do.

Ajax man ‘has much better technique’ than Antony – former striker

“Kudus has much better technique and he knows what he is doing. Antony may be faster, but Kudus is smarter and more technical.

“He is much more of a footballer, you can place him anywhere on the pitch, an all-rounder for the team. In fact, I like him much better than Antony. He’s more fun to watch play.”

There is good reason to suggest that Kudus is far more direct than Antony. Kudus has netted 15 goals in 30 matches for Ajax this term. That includes four in his last five Eredivisie appearances.

However, one reason Kudus may be more efficient than Antony in front of goal is that he gets to play as a centre-forward more often. Antony only really operates as a right winger, whereas Kudus is more versatile and can lead the line or play out wide.

Man Utd could have saved some serious money by chasing Kudus instead of Antony. While the latter cost £86m, Kudus’ price tag reportedly sits at just £40m.

Man Utd are reportedly planning to add the Ghanaian to their ranks this summer. If Kudus does swap Ajax for Man Utd, then it will be intriguing to see how he performs in comparison to Antony.

Meanwhile, Man Utd and Arsenal could miss out on the signing of a Premier League midfielder to Borussia Dortmund, as per reports.