Barring any surprising late complications it is widely expected, according to a variety of reports, that Manchester United will imminently announce Ajax manager Erik ten Hag as their new head coach.
Ten Hag has been hugely impressive in his time with Ajax and was seen by many as one of the top managerial prospects available.
Now the transfer rumour mill has moved into overdrive linking players who might fit Ten Hag’s system and it’s no surprise to see one of his Ajax stars in the news. This time it’s Brazilian forward Antony, who is reportedly set to be the subject of a £50 million bid.
UEFA Super Cup
'I could do more' - Benzema admits his 'ambitions' changed when Ronaldo left Real Madrid
In order to get more information about Antony we got in touch with Kevin Van Nunen from Eurosport Netherlands, who you may remember from his excellent profile on Ten Hag, to find out more.
- Transfers, coaching, Ronaldo and Pogba are just the tip of the Man Utd iceberg for Ten Hag
- 'I'd do it again' - Rangnick has no regrets over taking United job
How has Antony’s time with Ajax been?
Antony arrived at Ajax during the summer transfer window ahead of the 2020-21 season as a replacement for Hakim Ziyech, who had moved to Chelsea.
So how would Van Nunen rate his time with the Amsterdam club thus far?
“Antony is good. I think he’s the real deal,” Van Nunen says.
“Thanks to his good performances at Ajax he’s made his debut in the Brazilian national team and as far as I know he was also really good in these games. Ajax gave Antony permission to play at the Olympics, in which Brazil won gold and Antony was one of the important players in the squad. Shortly after, he celebrated by getting a really bad tattoo…
“I think it is fair to say Antony has exceeded expectations. It’s relatively new for Ajax to pick up players in Brazil but after some success in Argentina, Ajax decided to purchase some Brazilian talent as well.
“Antony wasn’t cheap, with bonuses included his sum was around 20-21 million euros which put him more or less on par with the Ajax transfer record.
“David Neres was first, then came Antony and then another player, who failed and is now loaned out. Neres and Antony are good friends and Ajax/Neres even recorded a welcome song to Antony when he came over to Amsterdam. Both played for Sao Paulo in their home country.
“Also thanks to this friendship with Neres, Antony almost didn’t feel like a new player, but like the attacker Ajax always wanted to have and now who finally arrived. Antony made an instant impression and was pivotal in winning the league title last year. This year as well. He’s injured at the moment and Ajax fans are quite scared this will cost the club in the latter, nail-biting stages of the season.
“Ajax at the moment isn’t the machine anymore it was for the last one and a half years and Antony has always been able to break a game open, but now Ajax has to find other ways to create danger and score goals…”
What kind of player is Antony?
So then what kind of player is Antony? What can United fans expect?
“Antony is great at tricking defenders, he just plays with them, whether it’s Eredivisie or on European level,” says Van Nunen.
“But he is also a team player. He had to learn how to operate defensively, but he did. And he has a lot of assists to his name and provides goalscoring chances to his team-mates over and over again.
“Yes, you read it correctly: he is a very complete attacker! Antony plays from the right, but his crosses when he cuts inside with his left foot have delivered lots of goals and big chances. You don’t do this when you’re (too) selfish.”
Okay, so this is where we get to Cristiano Ronaldo. When we ask our European offices about young players in their leagues we tend to ask for a comparison. It’s something that you, the reader, tends to like and it’s always interesting to get some more information in terms of playing style. Here’s what Van Nunen had to say about his comparison with Antony and the Old Trafford legend.
“I really want to start off by stressing that I’m not calling Antony the new Cristiano Ronaldo,” begins Van Nunen.
“But he reminds me a little of the young Cristiano Ronaldo. I mean, Antony is a little streetwise, a little naughty and sometimes tries one trick too many… which all will be alright when he matures.
“He is only 22 years old and has a lot to learn. During the recent derby against Feyenoord (won 3-2 thanks to an Antony goal) all this theatre was a little bit too much. He rolled back onto the pitch, got a push from team-mate Tadic for some good old fashioned ‘s***housery’ and ended up with a red card in the last minute…
“Everybody was waiting on some kind of red card like that because Antony has a small habit of kicking out and stamping opponents when the ball is not close which means he isn’t really loved by fans of other clubs.”
A flash, tricky winger who can irritate opposing fans with his petulance. That sound familiar?
How do you think he will adjust to the Premier League?
“If you excel at Ajax, the Europa League and Champions League… you can also make it in the Premier League,” replies Van Nunen.
“Also, if he teams up again with Erik ten Hag, the coach who knows how to get the best out of him, that should also bode well.
“I remember Ajax were interested a few years ago in Richarlison, but at the last moment he snubbed Ajax and preferred Watford. And the two [Richarlison and Anthony] played together at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Antony is on par with Richarlison, at least, maybe better. So if Richarlison is good enough… Antony is as well.
“I’m not worried about Antony in the Premier League at all, I think he can run the show.”
'No doubt' - Man Utd should have re-signed Welbeck this summer, says Ferdinand
'It's a bit s*** to be honest' - Haaland disappointed not to score hat-trick in Man City's win
Share this article