Manchester United weighing up improved offer for Ajax star Antony

Manchester United will continue talks with Ajax over the final days of the transfer window, as they deliberate on whether to improve their £74m for Antony.

While Erik ten Hag feels the winger fits all the attributes of what he wants, there is an appreciation that negotiations could reach a point where the price is simply too much for a player of his limited career experience. The 22-year-old has only been in Europe, and that in the Eredivisie, for two years.

The other side is that Ajax had planned to sell just three first-team players this window, and have already let five go, so are under little inclination to sell. This is why they can afford to set such a high price. At the same time, there is a knowledge that is huge money for Ajax to “leave on the table”.

United are expected to be busy in the last few days of the window, with Antony one of three primary positions they are targeting. Ten Hag has been investigating the signing of a ball-playing goalkeeper, with the club having had an approach for Eintracht Frankfurt’s Kevin Trapp turned down. They will instead look at Borussia Monchengladbach’s Yann Sommer and Freiburg’s Mark Flekken as alternatives.

Some of United’s business depends on the future of Cristiano Ronaldo. The player wants to leave, and there is a belief the club would accept the right offer, although Ten Hag publicly insisted he “hopes” the Portuguese stays. A problem has been a lack of interest in Ronaldo, with only Sporting offering a concrete solution. The player’s agent, Jorge Mendes, continues to canvas Champions League clubs for a potential exit.

Specifically asked whether the 1-0 win over Southampton was Ronaldo’s last game, Ten Hag said: “We plan with him. So we want him to stay. So that is what we want.” When it was put to the manager whether that was ultimately his decision: “I hope so.”

Ten Hag said they may not move for another forward, although there is still interest in PSV Eindhoven’s Cody Gakpo. United had been hugely confident on Antony, but Ajax’s struggles to sign Hakim Ziyech from Chelsea have also affected the Dutch club’s stance.