Manchester United are close to agreeing a deal with Ajax for striker Antony.
United’s latest offer is believed to be close to Ajax’s €100m (£85m) fee, a price which includes add-ons.
Antony has again been left out of Ajax’s squad for Sunday’s game in Utrecht as talks between the clubs continue.
Personal terms are not seen as an issue in this deal, which is expected to ramp up in the next 24-48 hours.
However, there is still work to be done on both sides, with Ajax boss Alfred Schreuder keen to keep Antony.
Ajax are also keen to bring in a replacement if they allow him to leave. If they can’t, they have to decide whether to keep the player or if the fee is too high to deny.
United have been chasing the 22-year-old for several weeks and also saw a £67.9m (€80m) bid rejected by the club earlier this week.
United have also looked at other options. They are interested in Barcelona striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and continue to monitor his situation. Chelsea are 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’.
In an interview with Italian journalist Fabrizio Romano on YouTube on Friday, Antony said: “Since February this year, my agents have come to Amsterdam to inform Ajax of my desire to leave the club for a new challenge and that some interested clubs would arrive and, with them, certainly a great offer.
“During the window months, the meetings were concluded, including a proposal from Ajax for the renewal of the contract. I made it clear once again that I wanted to leave the club.
“Today in a meeting with the board of directors 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 that he only has five days to replace me (me).
“I’m not asking (Ajax) to release me, I’m asking Ajax to sell me as the highest offer received by a player who plays in the Eredivisie.
A move to United would see Antony reuniting with former Ajax boss Erik ten Hag, who has already signed defender Lisandro Martinez from his former club.
“I was very happy in Amsterdam, I won titles at Ajax, I made friends and I built part of my career, but now I confirm that I am ready and full of motivation to follow my story and my dreams,” added Antony.
“People have to listen to me and understand that my motivation drives me towards happiness. I need it to keep performing at a high level. Ajax will always be in my heart.”
The transfer window closes at 11pm on Thursday, meaning United have four days after Sunday to conclude further deals.
Why Antony is Ten Hag’s man
“Of course we hope he will be Ajax’s next star.” It was July 2020 and Erik ten Hag, the Ajax manager at the time, introduced Antony, the club’s new signing of £20million from Sao Paulo.
“At Ajax we always try to reach the top,” added Ten Hag. “So I expect him to 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 from Antony – the Brazilian, just 19 when he agreed to a move to Amsterdam, quickly established himself as one of Ajax’s key players – but even he could not have predicted that he could one day take him to Manchester United. too.
Read Nick Wright’s full article on Antony here.
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