Erik ten Hag’s Man Utd transfer plan receives boost as swap deal takes shape
Manchester United have been handed a potential boost in their pursuit of Ajax forward Antony as the Dutch giants close in on a deal to sign Francisco Conceicao.
New United boss Erik ten Hag wants Antony in his ideal XI at Old Trafford and the Brazilian forward wants to be reunited with his former coach having put pressure on Ajax to consider allowing him to join the Red Devils in this summer window.
Antony – the Dutch side’s star player last season – is hopeful of rekindling his strong relationship with Ten Hag amid reports that the player’s representatives recently travelled to Europe in order to help negotiate a deal this window.
Ajax have already moved to bolster their attack this summer with a player who shares a similar profile to the Brazilian, as they completed a deal to sign forward Steven Bergwijn from Tottenham. Just as with Antony, the Dutch international is a right-sided attacking player and his arrival would soften the possible loss of the star forward to United.
The Amsterdam giants are now also closing in on a deal for another player with a similar profile, as they look set to sign Conceicao from FC Porto.
The 19-year-old enjoyed a breakthrough campaign at the Portuguese club last campaign and the Under-21 international star – the son of Porto boss Sergio Conceicao – is now poised to make the switch to the Eredivisie.
Conceicao primarily played on the right-side of midfield for Porto last campaign but he has an eye for goal and featured predominantly in a more attacking role for club and country at youth level.
While Bergwijn can operate more centrally, Conceicao is an out-and-out right-sided player who would occupy a similar position as Antony.
Antony played 33 games last season for the Dutch giants, where he scored 12 goals and provided 10 assists before missing the final segment of the campaign through injury. He also played nine games in the South American Qualifiers for the World Cup for the Brazilian national team and scored two goals.
Ten Hag is looking for more balance in his attack as Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford have primarily been deployed on the left, even if Sancho is capable on either flank. Anthony Elanga also recently claimed that he preferred to play on the left rather than on the right, where he had been utilised by former United interim boss Ralf Rangnick.
The club’s attacking situation has been complicated by Cristiano Ronaldo wanting to leave United just one year on from his return to Old Trafford and the 37-year-old is the only player who has not reported to the club’s pre-season training this month due to ‘family reasons’. That follows on from Edinson Cavani being among a glut of first-team exits from the club this summer – hastening the need to bring in a new forward.
United have confirmed defender Lisandro Martinez ’s arrival at the club after an agreement was reached with Ajax, which follows on from the signing of Tyrell Malacia from Feyenoord and the arrival of Christian Eriksen as a free agent following the expiration of his contract at Brentford.