Antony is closing in on a move to Manchester United, with the saga finally coming to an end.
The Ajax winger has been linked with a move to United ever since Erik ten Hag was announced as the club’s new manager at the back end of last season, and his interest in reuniting with Antony was clear early on in the summer.
United seemed to keep their cards close to their chest when moving for him, though, but have reignited their interest in recent weeks with the transfer window coming to a close.
In a desperate need to bolster the squad before the window slams shut on 1 September, United have been bidding to try and pry Antony away from the grasp of Ajax in order to bring him to Old Trafford.
Along with Frenkie de Jong – who is still a Barcelona player despite the constant speculation – it has widely been believed all summer that Antony was Ten Hag’s top target at United.
Despite this and the need for serious reinforcements to the squad, the club has been unable to get the deal over the line – until now.
It now looks as though Antony is finally going to get his move to Manchester, with United closing in on a transfer worth a total of €100 million, per Fabrizio Romano, with the news breaking from Dutch sources on Sunday morning.
DONE DEAL! Man Utd sign Antony (Football Terrace)
The fee is certainly one that raises eyebrows – especially considering many believed Antony would’ve been available for cheaper had they acted sooner – but the important thing is getting over the line for Ten Hag’s sake.
United’s attack still looks incredibly light, with fitness issues plaguing Anthony Martial and Jadon Sancho looking much more comfortable on the left flank, meaning Antony would slot in seamlessly on the right.
As well as Antony, though, United are said to be considering a move to bring Memphis Depay back to the club, after a move from Barcelona to Juventus fell through. The Dutch forward failed to live up to his potential at United from 2014 to 2017, but has since rebuilt his career and is available for a transfer this summer.
Romano (via @UnitedStandMUFC on Twitter) states that there has been contact between Depay’s camp and United’s over a potential reunion, while Gerard Romero (via @UtdPlug) reports United have already tabled a €10m bid.
Neither Antony nor Depay immediately strike fans as ruthless goal getters who could fill the boots of Cristiano Ronaldo should he leave before the transfer window shuts, but they are both magnificent players in their own right and would fit in with how Ten Hag is trying to shape his attack.
At the very least, signing the pair would drastically improve the quality in depth and competition for places up front for United. With Martial’s fitness already proving a concern and Ronaldo’s future in the air, signing Antony and Depay gives United a wealth of options in attack.
So, with that in mind, we at GIVEMESPORT have racked our brains and come up with five exciting ways United could configure their front line, should both Antony and Depay end up at the club.
1. Front three – Sancho/Martial/Antony
In our first configuration, Depay would have to make an impact from the bench. This is what Ten Hag is surely most likely to field should Antony sign and if he has all his attacking options fit and available.
Martial has completely revived his United career under the Dutchman, Sancho has began to show more consistent glimpses of his talent as a left-winger and Antony would do a similar job from the right as an inverted winger.
Consider that Rashford and Depay could come in off the bench, as well as Anthony Elanga, and that is a serious improvement at full strength.
2. Front three – Sancho/Depay/Antony
As we’ve already seen just four games into the season, Martial cannot be relied upon every week, no matter how much he’s improved on the field.
If it’s not inconsistency, it’s injury. Signing Depay would solve that and give United a similar profile of player to rely upon during a long season. The Dutchman has become much more well rounded since leaving United and played some of his best football at Lyon in a more central role.
3. Two strikers – Martial and Depay
As we said, Depay has impressed in a more central role and Martial has staked his claim as United’s centre-forward this season.
Ten Hag hasn’t resorted to a front two with wingers just yet, but the season is long and pragmatism sometimes prevails. Perhaps pairing up the two fluid movers, who are also technically proficient, could prove a cheat code if United come unstuck during a long, arduous campaign.
You can also throw in Rashford to break up the pairing, and flank them with the pace of the Englishman and the skill of Sancho or Antony.
4. False nine – Depay/Fernandes/Antony
Ten Hag experimented with a false nine setup in the absence of Martial in United’s defeat to Brighton. That suggests it wasn’t a success, but with the help of two new attacking faces and by using Fernandes as the false nine, things could look a lot different.
The Portuguese international has an eye for goal and needs the licence to stay forward, press and play killer balls. Dropping in and allowing Depay and Antony the room to finish the job in attack could – with time – prove effective.
It also eases the expectation on the likes of Sancho and Rashford, particularly if Martial is struggling for fitness.
5. Front three – Rashford/Martial/Antony
Above all, signing two exciting attackers like Depay and Antony gives Ten Hag the ability to play more of a front three, especially in possession, and take the game to opponents more consistently.
Rashford – when at his best – is menacing on the left flank and provides everything from pace to passing and technique. Martial links up seamlessly with him at times, and being able to switch play to Antony who can cut inside and tie defenders up in knots makes for a potentially thrilling new dynamic.
A duo that once looked promising, shifted into a trio that is consistently menacing.