When United signed Antony for €100 million, he became the second-most expensive player in the club’s history.
Even at that time, critics and fans were skeptical as to whether the player was worthy of this fee.
In a new analysis by The Athleticthey ask the question as to whether the transfer fee was justified and whether fans and pundits were right to expect so much from the player, just because of the fee involved.
Antony joined the club from Ajax. After suffering back-to-back Premier League defeats at the start of the season, the club had a sense of urgency about getting the deal over the line.
They wanted to back their new manager and his choices just as they had during the pursuits of Christian Eriksen, Lisandro Martinez and Tyrell Malacia.
Ajax’s Chief Executive and former Manchester United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar told The Athletic at the time, “We would have liked to keep (Antony) here one year longer — there was not a dire need to sell him, we had money in the bank …but the fee got so high. We challenged United to go as far as possible. When you want a player, you probably pay a little bit more.”
He became the 13th most expensive footballer of all time and with that came a lot of scrutiny and pressure.
Consistently in the starting 11, he has had some good moments since he joined but recently his performances have come under the microscope and his frustration is becoming evident.
He was the first to be subbed off against Arsenal and also made way in United’s mid-week game against Crystal Palace and the most memorable moment was his on-field dispute with teammate Bruno Fernandes following a wayward pass.
One of his biggest limitations that fans and pundits alike have picked up on is his reluctance to use his right foot.
As The Athletic describes, “The sight of him bursting into space then cutting back onto his left, declining to try to beat a full-back on the outside, has become all too familiar.”
Although his goal and shot output have transferred over from the Eredivisie, he is yet to register an assist with his new club.
He has struggled to beat his opponents this season, something he was doing twice or more times for 90 minutes with Ajax.
It could be that he is still adjusting to life in the Premier League and though fans may be losing faith in the Brazilian, Ten Hag’s belief in him is unfaltering.
Aside from the Manchester derby on January 14, Antony has been in the opening line-up for every Premier League game, when fit.
As the article further points out, that is partly because he has little option. His other wingers are right-footed and prefer to play on the left.
Marcus Rashford who is in the form of his life, Jadon Sancho, Alejandro Garnacho and Anthony Elanga all prefer to play on the left flank.
However, he starts because Ten Hag believes in him too and there is reason to believe that as Ten Hag develops and molds this United team, Antony will develop too.
Although the price tag may still be over-inflated, it is clear that the club are benefiting on the pitch from backing their manager and his decisions regarding players.
Antony himself has since spoken out on social media saying that he is “seeking to evolve to give my best to the team.”
Time will tell how well he adapts and what an impact he could have on the club but with Ten Hag’s belief he could prove to be a long-term success.
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