EXCLUSIVE: Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag has stepped up his interest in players from former club Ajax and the Dutchman has been told of his chances of bringing them to Old Trafford
Ajax won’t let Erik ten Hag’s plan to rebuild Manchester United lead to a mass exodus of the players he left behind in Amsterdam.
United have circled the Dutch club for signings after Ten Hag drew up a wishlist upon his arrival in Manchester. Ajax trio Jurrien Timber and Lisandro Martinez and Antony were part of his plans.
But Timber turned his back on United after refusing to put his place in Holland’s World Cup squad in jeopardy following a warning from Dutch boss Louis van Gaal – and it prompted the Reds to quit. interested in his Argentinian defensive partner Martinez lately. days. Ajax have already rejected an offer from Arsenal of around £30million.
Another target for Ten Hag is Antony, the Brazilian winger valued at over £50million. But Mirror Sport understands the word from inside Ajax is that they won’t allow their former manager to tear apart the squad he built during his four-and-a-half-year reign. It’s likely that Ten Hag will have to choose between Martinez and Antony – unless United make Ajax an offer too good to refuse.
Ajax don’t need the money. They are Champions League regulars again and are set to sell former West Ham striker Sebastian Haller to Borussia Dortmund for £30m, having already raised £16.6m when Ryan Gravenberch joined Bayern Munich. Munich have also signed Noussair Mazraoui on a free transfer and Ajax are unwilling to give new coach Alfred Schreuder a squad that has been laid bare.
They have raked in over £350million over the past four years allowing the likes of Frenkie de Jong, Matthijs de Ligt, Donny van de Beek and Hakim Ziyech to leave. Ten Hag left with good wishes from Ajax after winning three Eredivisie titles. Managing director Edwin van der Sar also has a working relationship with his Old Trafford counterparts having served United so well as a goalkeeper under Sir Alex Ferguson.
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But they won’t accept United picking their most talented assets on the cheap. Ajax are resigned to losing either Martinez or Antony following Timber’s decision to stay put – but not both. It would take a huge financial offer to change that position. And with Barcelona making it clear to United that they will have to hand over the bulk of Ten Hag’s budget to sign De Jong valued at £80m – talks are ongoing between the clubs but there has been no agreement yet. breakthrough – it would take a major loosening of the Old Trafford purse strings to get there.
General Manager Richard Arnold was secretly filmed telling angry fans that money was no object in achieving Ten Hag’s goals. United don’t want to be ripped off after spending over £1billion on the transfer market over the past decade. But club fans have already seen rivals Manchester City and Liverpool splash the cash. Martinez, 24, made it clear at Ajax when he was linked with Arsenal that he couldn’t turn down the chance to play in the Premier League. Antony, 22, has also had his head turned by interest from United. But that could depend on which player Ten Hag wants the most. United, meanwhile, are still awaiting a response from Christian Eriksen after offering the Danish midfielder the chance to join Ten Hag’s Old Trafford revolution.