Ajax striker Antony has refused to train with the Dutch club in a bid to force through a £72.3million move to Manchester United.
The Brazilian international turned up at Ajax’s De Toekomst training ground as usual – but then informed coach Alfred Schreuder he would not be joining the rest of the squad as they were put through their paces ahead of the clash at Sparta Rotterdam on Sunday.
The Amsterdam club refused to confirm that he was trying to engineer his departure to Old Trafford after United tabled an offer that would see them pay £63.8million up front and a further £8.3million in add-ons.
Antony wants to follow former Ajax coach Erik ten Hag to Manchester. His advisers arrived in Holland from South America earlier this week after United informed them they were ready to launch an official bid.
Sources in Amsterdam believe it is now only a matter of time before Ajax relent and allow the 23-year-old his dream move to United. Schreuder has been battling to keep Ajax after it emerged that Ten Hag wanted the forward to join him.
The Dutch champions have seen Argentine defender Lisandro Martinez follow Ten Hag to Manchester. Ajax have also lost Sebastien Haller, Ryan Gravenberch, Perr Schuurs, Nicolas Tagliafico and Noussair Mazaroui this summer.
Schreuder warned Ajax sporting directors Gerry Hamstra and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar that he could not afford to lose Antony – despite United’s bank-busting bid.
Ajax have previously managed to persuade defender Jurrien Timber to turn down United’s overtures – and have now rewarded the 21-year-old with a new contract. But Antony’s head has been turned.
He won two Eredivisie titles under Ten Hag after arriving from Sao Paulo in a £14million deal in February 2020.
Antony announced that he was happy to stay with Ajax after scoring his first goal of the season in the 6-1 thrashing of Groningen.
He told NOS: “Will Ten Hag call me? No idea. He has to discuss this with my agents, I’m focused on here.
“What will come will come, we will see. I feel good at Ajax. I give everything for this club, every minute… so I am loving this city and this club.”
Antony has scored 21 in 74 games for Ajax and has hit the net twice in nine appearances for Brazil to cement his chances of going to the World Cup. Now, with United deciding whether to increase their bid, Antony has tried to force the issue by taking action of his own.
Ten Hag is desperate for reinforcements after seeing his team beaten by Brighton and Brentford in their first two games of the season.
Madrid have accepted their £60million offer for five-time Champions League winner Casemiro and the Brazilian is expected to seal a five-year contract worth £350,000-a-week in the coming days.