ERIK TEN HAG plans an early return to Ajax for Brazilian winger Antony.
The Dutchman will make the exciting young samba star one of his first summer signings for Manchester United.
Erik ten Hag wants to sign Antony before the World CupCredit: Getty
The 22-year-old Brazil international has been targeted for phase one of Ten Hag’s Old Trafford rebuild, once he is officially installed as United’s next boss.
Ten Hag is eager to hit the ground running and sees Antony as a ready-made fit for his new-look United, as the youngster knows Ten Hag’s style of football inside-out.
Going back to Ajax for players would not faze him as he has a history of signing former players he trusts.
SunSport sources say Ajax would not be difficult to deal with provided they get a realistic offer — in excess of £50million — for one of the world’s most exciting young talents.
Ten Hag is convinced it makes sound business sense to sign Antony this summer at a realistic price, rather than risk his value soaring if he takes the World Cup by storm in Qatar later this year.
The Ajax boss signed the raw but exciting talent from Sao Paulo on a five-year-deal in February 2020 for a bargain initial fee of £13million, rising to £18.2m.
But his value has soared since Ten Hag polished the rough diamond and turned Antony into one of Eredivisie’s most exciting stars.
The youngster was bought as a long-term replacement for Chelsea-bound Hakim Ziyech but stunned his new club with the speed of his development under his mentor Ten Hag. Last season he was involved in 20 Ajax goals — scoring ten and providing ten assists.
That form earned Antony a senior call-up for Brazil, where his progress has been equally impressive.
He came off the bench to score on his debut against Venezuela in a World Cup qualifier, despite only being on the pitch for 13 minutes.
Antony has now established himself with Brazil and will be a nailed-on starter in Qatar, which is why Ten Hag realises time is of the essence.
The right-winger has already bettered last season’s stats and has scored 12 goals and provided 10 assists for Ajax with five games remaining of the Dutch season.
Injury kept the Brazilian winger out of Sunday’s Dutch Cup final and was one of the reasons Ajax went down 2-1 to fierce rivals PSV Eindhoven.
An Ajax insider said: “If it’s right for the club and they get a good fee, then it won’t be a problem for Ten Hag to go back to Ajax for players.
“He is a massive fan of Antony, who he has nurtured, and is smart enough to realise if he goes to Qatar and helps Brazil win the World Cup then his price will go through the roof as a world champion.
“He is similar in style to Everton’s Richarlison.
“Antony is a similar type of player who would create and score goals for Manchester United.”