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Manchester United Finally Land Antony

Antony Man United

Manchester United has finally reached agreement with Ajax for the transfer of the Brazilian forward Antony. United are reported to pay the Dutch club a guaranteed €95m (£81.3m), plus €5m (£4.2m) in add-ons.

Antony will not be available to face Leicester on Thursday but could make his debut against Arsenal on Sunday.

Antony, who has 31 goals and 27 assists in 134 club appearances for Ajax and Sao Paulo, is the second Ajax player that United have bought this, having earlier taken Lisandro Martinez to join former Ajax boss Erik Ten Hag at Old Trafford.

Antony is United’s third most expensive signing ever, but what are they getting for their money? We can get a better grasp of his style of play by using smarterscout data, which gives players a rating from 0-99, relating to either how often they perform a given action compared with others in their position (such as ball recoveries and interceptions), or how effective they are (such as how well they progress the ball upfield).

Antony

Here’s what the above chart is telling us:

  • Antony is a dynamic goalscorer and goal creator rather than an orthodox “get to the byline and cross” right winger. While he is good at dribbling, for much of last season he progressed the ball with passes upfield (progressive passing, 64 out of 99) rather than ball carries (carry and dribble volume, 34 out of 99).
  • He keeps the ball very well (ball retention ability, 83 out of 99), and is good at sensible team build-up with shorter passes (link-up play volume, 66 out of 99). Antony’s close control when dribbling will impress United fans this season. He is someone able to weave his way out of fraught situations.
  • He doesn’t shirk his defensive duties. His defending intensity (73 out of 99) shows he is active in getting close to his man when required. The high volume of recoveries and interceptions he makes (81 out of 99) also suggests he doesn’t run after the man in possession like a headless chicken; there is a rhyme and reason to his pressing attempts.

Antony thrived at Ajax last season (eight goals and four assists in 23 Eredivisie appearances) because Ten Hag’s side controlled the ball well and could sustain pressure on opponents.

United did not have the midfielder’s to play that style of system well, but the arrivals of Casemiro and Christian Eriksen should ETH play the style of football that he wants, and that will help Antony in his transition to the Premier League.