Manchester United remain in talks with Ajax over the signing of Antony after their latest offer of €90m (£76.3m) was rejected.
United have been chasing the 22-year-old for several weeks and also saw a £67.9m (€80m) offer rebuffed by the club earlier this week.
One source claims Ajax want at least €100m (£84.8m) – but they are under no pressure to sell and feel they have little time to bring in a replacement.
United are prepared to walk away from the deal – but it is thought that point has not arrived yet.
United, however, do continue to look at other options. They also have an interest in Barcelona striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and continue to keep an eye on his situation. Chelsea have been in talks over signing Aubameyang.
United’s interest remains in PSV Eindhoven’s Cody Gakpo. Signing both Antony and Gakpo has been described as “unlikely but not impossible”.
Antony was omitted from the Ajax squad for last Sunday’s 1-0 win over Sparta Rotterdam, in the latest indication the player wants to move to Old Trafford, but the Eredivisie champions have stood firm against United’s improved offer.
“Since February of this year, my agents came to Amsterdam to inform Ajax of my desire to leave the club to face a new challenge and that some interested clubs would arrive and, with them, certainly a great offer,” Antony said via Italian journalist Fabrizio Romano on YouTube on Friday.
“During the window months, meetings concluded including a proposal from Ajax for contract renewal. I made it clear once again I want to leave the club.
“Today in a meeting with the board I expressed my interest in leaving the club, this time with a considerable offer on the table. Others have already arrived (but) Ajax always refuses with the argument it only has five days to replace (me).
“I’m not asking (for Ajax) to release me, I am asking Ajax to sell me as the highest bid received by a player who plays in the Eredivisie.”
A move to United would see Antony reunited with ex-Ajax boss Erik ten Hag, who has already recruited defender Lisandro Martinez from his former club.
“I was very happy in Amsterdam, I won titles at Ajax, made friends and built part of my career, but now I reinforce that I am ready and full of motivation to follow my story and my dreams,” Antony added.
“People need to listen to me and understand that my motivation moves me towards happiness. I need this to continue performing at a high level. Ajax will always be in my heart.”
Despite rejecting the latest bid, talks are ongoing between the two clubs, ahead of the transfer deadline on September 1.
‘You can understand Ajax’s position over sale’
Sky Sports News’ Dharmesh Sheth on The Transfer Show:
“Erik ten Hag said United need top players, Man Utd continue to pursue Antony and they continue to be thwarted by Ajax.
“An €80m bid was rejected last week, we’ve just been told they’ve gone back in with a €90m bid including add-ons, and again Ajax want more money.
“You can understand Ajax’s position. With six days to go in the transfer window, they can probably smell a bit of desperation from Man Utd’s side. Why should they not try to raise it as far as they can, simply because they might be at a disadvantage as well?
“Yes, they’ll have all this money in the bank if they sell Antony to United, but how much time would they have to bring in a replacement?
“Antony has made it clear he wants to leave Ajax and join United, though. Talks are ongoing between the clubs, there’s a friendly relationship between them, but we think Ajax may want to push as far as €100m before they would sell him.”
Schreuder confident over Antony future
Speaking earlier this week, Ajax boss Alfred Schreuder said he was confident Antony would remain at the club – and appeared to take a swipe at the fact that United are not playing in the Champions League.
“I have a good feeling about it. Of course, it’s difficult. I understand the lad,” Schreuder said after Ajax’s win on Sunday. “But he plays for Ajax, so these clubs do come knocking on the door. We are playing in the Champions League and I don’t think Manchester United are.”
When asked if Ajax could afford to turn down bids of €90 or €100m, he replied: “I don’t know, that’s for the club to decide, but I think we are very strong financially.
“As I already said, the money involved nowadays is ridiculous, of course. But if you look at our group, since I arrived we have already sold five or six key players. I disapprove if we were to sell another player.”
Why Antony is Ten Hag’s man
“For sure, we hope he will be the next star of Ajax.” It was July 2020 and Erik ten Hag, Ajax’s manager at the time, was introducing Antony, the club’s new £20m signing from Sao Paulo.
“We at Ajax are always trying to strive for the top,” added Ten Hag. “So I expect he will do his best to reach that level of expectation. The rest, we will see in the future.”
Ten Hag was right to expect big things of Antony – the Brazilian, only 19 when he agreed his move to Amsterdam, swiftly established himself as one of Ajax’s key players – but even he could not have predicted he might one day take him to Manchester United too.
Read Nick Wright’s full feature on Antony here.
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