In the last hour, a massive £76m bid for Brazilian winger Antony has been rejected by Ajax. This provides a shock to many United fans, who largely expected the Amsterdam club to accept the (widely considered extortionate) bid.
This comes after over a week of reports suggesting United were preparing a new bid, after a previous £67m attempt had been rejected.
Most agree the word ‘overpaying’ would be an understatement in this deal, esepcially considering he may have been available for around £50m at the start of the window.
Much-needed anti-Glazer protests may have been the reason for this hefty bid, in which the club could have been forced into action, with the Glazers reportedly sanctioning a budget increase.
So is Antony really worth the money?
Antony is naturally a right-winger, a position Jadon Sancho was originally bought for. This would instantly provide competition for this Sancho.
Aside from this, Sancho has been impressive on the left as well, meaning both of them could play in the same team if they were the in-form players. This would, however, involve Antony to be a little more direct, which may not be an issue when looking at his statistics.
A positive to Antony’s game is his attacking abilities. Amongst positional peers in the ‘Big 5 leagues’, he ranks in the top 1% in assists and shots taken, according to FBref. This can solve a much needed weakness in the United side, where Ronaldo’s absence takes a lot of goals with him.
Antony is also left footed, a profile that has been lacking in United’s current attack.
Antony’s non-penalty goal and xG rate are similar too, indicating a sustainable goal threat.
He is also very good at intercepting the ball, with 1.88 a game indicating an ability to read opposition passes, in what is paramount in an effective counterpress that United will look to employ.
On the other hand, Antony ranks in the bottom 20th percentile for pressures, in which his 13.01 a game will have to improve if he is to succeed in Ten Hag’s side.
And what if United walk away?
An alternative option for United is PSV Eindhoven’s Cody Gakpo, a player the club has already done the groundwork to sign.
Gakpo, voted Dutch footballer of the year, is a second winger linked to a Manchester move. The Dutchman, who would cost around £38m, boasts a higher goals-per-game ratio than Antony, who in turn takes more shots.
Elsewhere, Antony poses problems in terms of other transfers, in which it is unlikely the ownership will allow another marquee signing, if any. This means priority target Frenkie de Jong will become nearly unattainable, a player who, alongside Casemiro, would revolutionise the midfield, granted that ship seems to have sailed anyway.
Signing Gakpo for nearly half the price would enable the club to sign players such as Youri Tielemans and Memphis Depay, and as good as Antony is, three new additions is better than one.
That said, it is unlikely we can trust the club to do these (relatively simple) deals before the deadline, given their incompetent transfer window history.
Whether or not the signing could be done to distract fans from the ownership is unknown, but it is safe to say United supporters will welcome the most players that choose to join this iconic club.