After a summer of waiting, Erik ten Hag has finally got his man.
Manchester United confirmed they had reached an agreement with Ajax for the transfer of primary target Antony on Tuesday.
It’s believed the Red Devils have brokered an £85million deal for the Brazil international, 22. He will become their fifth signing of the summer after Tyrell Malacia, Christian Eriksen, Lisandro Martinez and Casemiro.
Although Ten Hag – who brought Antony from Sao Paulo to Ajax in the summer of 2020 – will be delighted with the transfer, it doesn’t solve United’s need for a new central midfielder. Yes, they’ve signed Casemiro – but the 30-year-old might not be enough
As reported by The Telegraph, United wanted to bring in another central midfielder before Thursday’s deadline but are unable to sanction anymore deals after committing their budget to Antony. They’ve spent more than £200m on initial transfer fees this summer.
United’s need for a central midfielder is clear. It was their weakest department last term, although they also struggled in defence and attack.
There were question marks over whether Fred and Scott McTominay were good enough to play for a so-called “Big Six” club. Nemanja Matic, meanwhile, was clearly past his best and Paul Pogba lacked the consistency required for a Premier League title charge.
Sometimes I think if you’re going to play in midfield for a big club, you’ve got to hang your hat on something to say well he’s brilliant at going forward or he’s brilliant defensively or he’s got a goal in him or he’s great at…
I don’t see any of them in Fred, any of them,” said former United captain Roy Keane in August 2021.
“”I think [Scott] McTominay is in with a chance of being a player. Matic, ah you know… would any of these get into the Manchester City team? Or Liverpool or Chelsea? I don’t see it, so I wouldn’t know the combination… that’s exactly where they’ll fall short.”
Keane’s prediction was right, with United finishing sixth last term. It was clear they needed not just one new midfielder but two… or maybe even three.
need became even more urgent when Matic and Pogba were released by the club at the end of June.