Manchester United could be targeting the wrong Ajax player this summer – Casey Evans

Ajax’s best players are Daley Blind and Dusan Tadic. The former Manchester United have already signed and then foolishly sold, with the latter probably too old to consider signing, but there are a number of talented players in the same team who could follow Erik ten Hag to Old Trafford this summer.

Antony, Jurrien Timber and Lisandro Martinez have been linked with a move to United this summer. However, according to reports in the Netherlands, Ajax are unwilling to part with their star assets this summer unless they receive a substantial fee, having sold Ryan Gravenberch and now potentially Sebastian Haller, and Noussair Mazraoui goes free.

Center backs Martinez and Timber are reportedly priced at between €50m and €60m and Antony is available for around €70m. This may well test and stretch United’s budget, but more importantly, it is ignoring what has been a problematic position at the club for many years.

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Although United are in deep talks for Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong, they will need a partner in midfield: a true number six. The player must be able to reliably position himself to receive the ball in possession and then pass it to another teammate, he must also be more defensive and able to split the game.

As it happens, Ajax have a player who fits this mold and who could be available for just €30m. Edson Alvarez was a stalwart for Ten Hag’s side since he moved to the club at the start of the 2019/20 season and could act as the perfect midfield partner for De Jong at United.

The two players never played together in Amsterdam, Álvarez joined just after De Jong left for Spain, but the Mexican plays a similar role to the one played by Lasse Schone during the 2018/19 campaign, in which Ajax reached the World Cup semi-final. Champions League. He keeps things simple and protects center backs while a player like De Jong (or Gravenberch, to use a more recent Ajax example) advances.

Midfield should be United’s priority this summer. It’s the area where United are weakest when you consider the starting eleven and they also have the least depth thanks to departures this summer, which include Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata and Nemanja Matic.

On a budget and looking for players who quickly understand and implement Ten Hag’s style of play, a move for Alvarez seems like a no-brainer, but it may mean losing other Ajax-based targets.


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