Manchester United are growing increasingly confident of signing highly-rated Ajax winger Antony.
The Brazilian was one of Erik Ten Hag’s star performers in Amsterdam and could prove to be his first signing since becoming the new United manager.
The Reds are keen to bring in at least one new top-class forward to bolster their attack ahead of the new season, and securing a profile who can thrive playing on the right looks the priority.
Antony ticks that box and is fairly unique in that he’s a left-footed attacker and right now United currently lack such a profile at the club.
He’s more than comfortable taking touches and making passes with his right, however, operating on this side of the pitch inevitably opens up more opportunities to cut inside onto his favoured foot.
He is a thrilling dribbler and finished the last Eredivisie campaign having averaged the third most dribbles per 90 (8.4) for any player who played over 1000 minutes. He compliments that attacking ability with measurable end product too.
The 22-year-old finished the last campaign having registered 22 goal contributions in just 32 appearances, six of which came in the Champions League, suggesting he’s ready to step up to the demands of the Premier League and play a more influential role at the club next season.
His arrival pretty much solidifies that Jadon Sancho, who was actually earmarked by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as United’s priority for the right-wing last season, will play on the left.
The England international showed signs of his best form on that side of the pitch when playing under Ralf Rangnick, and looks set to make the position his own this season.
With Antony’s potential arrival, you can see how United’s frontline could start to take shape. Many are predicting Ten Hag to maintain the 4-2-3-1 formation he deployed for much of his time at Ajax, and the same will definitely suit Antony who will be well versed in the dynamics of the system.
The better players in the system should also add greater attacking support to Cristiano Ronaldo who was at times burdened with a lot of the goalscoring responsibility at United last season.
While 4-2-3-1 seems the natural fit based on who United have in the squad, the Brazilian’s ability and profile will allow for Ten Hag to adjust his approach if he wants, especially if key additions are made elsewhere, namely in the midfield.
The club are actively pursuing a top technical midfielder, with Frenkie de Jong their primary target and if he arrives, we could well see a switch to a 4-3-3 formation.
Antony’s favour to cut inside can make him a dangerous attacker in this sort of set up and the same will also open gaps for overlapping wing-backs.
Though Aaron Wan-Bissaka has rarely thrived in this sense during his time at Old Trafford, such movements could become much more valuable to the team if the club manage to bring in an upgrade on the 24-year-old this summer, with David Raum one of the names reportedly on their list.