When Manchester United announced the appointment of Erik ten Hag on a three-year deal with the option of a further year, the Netherlands’ worst-kept secret became official. Ten Hag’s trophy-laden reign was finally coming to an end.
Ten Hag ended her time in Amsterdam on a near perfect note. Although Ajax won the Eredivisie, which was the third Dutch championship of Ten Hag’s tenure, they fell short in the KNVB Cup final, losing that match 2–1 against PSV.
That disappointment didn’t matter much when Ajax clinched the Eredivisie title just a few weeks later. Ajax capped off their last home game of the season with an emphatic 5-0 win over Heerenveen and emotional scenes followed.
ALSO READ: Gary Neville is right about Glazers United’s £11m financial decision.
The players lifted the trophy, Edwin van der Sar thanked Ten Hag for his work and the 52-year-old also had the chance to give a farewell speech at the Amsterdam Arena. “‘We did great things together,” Ten Hag said, visibly proud and beaming.
Ajax also collected individual farewell messages from players past and present who had played with Ten Hag. They shared the images on social media and among the players who wished Ten Hag good luck were Frenkie de Jong and Antony.
Both players’ Ten Hag goodbyes might not last long. the Manchester Evening News he understands that United are making progress in discussions about a de Jong fee and that Ten Hag are interested in bringing Antony to Old Trafford this summer.
“Hello coach, Erik ten Hag,” said Antony in his message. “I want to wish you all the best in your new club. I also want to thank you for everything you taught me. I am grateful for all the opportunities and learning every day. Know that I will always be with you if you need me. A big hug and much luck.”
In retrospect, the waffles and bottles of Heineken in the press room at Ten Hag’s first press conference last month heralded the Dutch revolution that was to come to Manchester, though obviously Antony is Brazilian.
Antony is the most recent Ajax player to emerge as a United target. United have spent £120m on right wingers over the past two seasons, but the position remains an obvious problem.
Ten Hag sees 22-year-old Antony as the possible solution to that problem. Antony contributed 12 goals and 10 assists in 32 appearances for Ajax last season, which was an improvement on his already impressive debut season after signing from Sao Paulo.
Antony’s promise to always be with Ten Hag has caused some excitement on social media. The player’s quick feet make YouTube highlight reels exciting, but how does he compare to Premier League players in his position?
The winger averaged 0.67 xA (Expected Assists) per 90 in the Eredivisie last season and would be top of the Premier League in that metric if he replicated that level of performance for United, so in simple terms he is outstanding at creating opportunities.
Antony would also be at the top of successful attacking actions if he reproduces the same level of performance, and that will be the challenge for the player if he switches to United. Donny van de Beek is a perfect case study for Antony.
Antony looked visually stunning for Ajax and the stats reaffirm why United are interested in him.
Comparator is a soccer data comparison tool for 271 professional leagues around the world that compares players and clubs using more than 100 different parameters. Please click here for more details.
Sign up for our United newsletter so you don’t miss any updates from Old Trafford this season.