Manchester United are set for a busy few days with targets still to get over the line ahead of the summer transfer window’s deadline on Thursday night.
United have picked up some momentum on the field with back-to-back wins over Liverpool and Southampton, and they have a testing week ahead with two more Premier League games against Leicester and Arsenal.
While Erik ten Hag’s side take on Leicester at the King Power Stadium on Thursday night, behind the scenes United may well be putting the finishing touches on some last-gasp transfers.
The arrival of Casemiro has at least helped improve a troubled area of the pitch, adding to the signings of Lisandro Martinez, Tyrell Malacia and Christian Eriksen earlier this summer.
They are soon to be joined by the Brazil international winger Antony, but with Ten Hag keen for more reinforcements, who else might be coming and going before the window closes?
Manchester United are set to unveil Antony today after the Brazil international winger completed his medical on Monday. United have agreed to pay Ajax a fixed fee of €95m (£80.6m) with a further €5m (£4.2m) in potential add-ons.
Antony will become the second player to follow manager Erik ten Hag from the Dutch champions to Old Trafford following defender Lisandro Martinez. United paid an initial €57.37m (£48.3m) for the Argentina international – a fee that could rise by a further €10m to around £56.7m – and Ajax are now set to land an even bigger windfall.
United are understood to have had a lower bid rejected last week but made progress in recent days a deal for a player who had made his frustrations at the earlier impasse clear in an interview on Friday.
“Since February of this year, my agents came to Amsterdam to inform Ajax of my desire to leave the club to face a new challenge and that some interested clubs would arrive and, with them, certainly a great offer,” Antony said via Italian journalist Fabrizio Romano on YouTube. “During the window months, meetings concluded including a proposal from Ajax for a contract renewal. I made it clear once again I want to leave the club.”
The Brazilian is finally getting his wish, but there will be plenty of pressure to go with the enormous pricetag.
Martin Dubravka is also on the brink of moving to Old Trafford after Newcastle and Manchester United agreed terms on a loan deal with an option to buy. The goalkeeper is set to undergo his medical today. United have been insistent on a loan with an option to buy the 33-year-old Slovakian for around £5m, and Dubravka will provide competition for long-time No 1 David de Gea.
Interest has reportedly cooled over the Eintracht Frankfurt’s Kevin Trapp after the club demanded €25m.
Another Eredivisie item of interest in a Dutch-infused summer of recruitment at Manchester United is PSV Eindhoven’s Cody Gakpo. Another winger with significant potential, the 23-year-old may still be a target even if the Antony deal is completed with Ten Hag looking for plenty of options in his forward line, despite some reports suggesting Antony’s signing would put United off going for Gakpo too.
Gakpo has been linked with plenty of other clubs, including Everton, but admitted this week that United have shown concrete interest in his services. He told ESPN: “Antony to Man Utd? Nice for him… but for me and my future, I think that has no influence. It’s like a puzzle so in the next days I will see which puzzle fits best — for me, it’d be certainly not bad to stay at PSV. We’ll see.”
A more likely ‘either-or’ scenario is Gakpo vs Memphis, as they both play on the left and cut inside, and Manchester United have reportedly explored the idea of bringing back Barcelona forward Memphis Depay to Old Trafford.
The 28-year-old was expected to rip up his contract with the Spanish club and join Juventus this summer but the Italian side chose to go a different way. With that deal collapsed Sport claim United could pick up the pieces with an £8m bid for Depay as Ten Hag is desperate to boost his attacking options before next week’s transfer deadline.
“I think Depay wants to come back to the Premier League and he feels he has unfinished business in England,” former Arsenal midfielder Robert Pires claimed. “It didn’t work out for him at Manchester United and Depay is a very proud player.
“He perhaps feels he wasn’t given a chance to perform and earn the right to stay longer considering he was so young and showed glimpses of undoubted potential. Depay might want to return to Manchester United or he might be motivated to prove them wrong by performing for one of their rivals in the Premier League.”
Frenkie de Jong
Manchester United’s summer-long pursuit of Frenkie de Jong looks like it could be over with no deal as yet fully agreed for the Barcelona midfielder. Having worked under Ten Hag at Ajax, Miguel Delaney reported last month that De Jong favours a move but is waiting for Barcelona to pay deferred wages as the Catalan club continues to face financial difficulties.
Barcelona may need to sell De Jong to make their strange summer of business work – as Karl Matchett explains.
Incidentally, both Memphis and Frenkie de Jong are in London this week for the wedding of Manchester United and Dutch midfielder Donny van de Beek, and the United hierarchy happen to have their official headquarters stationed in London…
The club have supposedly enquired about Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Anthony Gordon in recent days, according to the Athletic.
Who could leave?
Manchester United have moved to silence rumours of a Cristiano Ronaldo move to Sporting Lisbon.
CaughtOffiside tweeted on Thursday that a Ronaldo return to Sporting Lisbon was ‘99 per cent done’ but an Old Trafford source told the Daily Mail that the 37-year-old striker is still expected to stay with the Red Devils this summer. Ronaldo has also been linked with Marseille and Napoli as his agent Jorge Mendes looks to secure him Champions League football this year, while he still considers Chelsea a possible destination.
Marseille have signed defender Eric Bailly on a season-long loan with a view to a permanent move. According to reports, the deal includes an obligation to buy if add-ons are met while Marseille will also cover the 28-year-old’s full wages during the course of the loan.
Bailly’s departure could be the precursor to a true defensive exodus at the club – The Telegraph report that Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Phil Jones and Axel Tuanzebe are all available.
Wan-Bissaka’s departure could necessitate the addition of another full-back: Barcelona’s Sergino Dest has been linked.
Ex-Manchester United defender Patrice Evra admits that time may be up for Harry Maguire at Old Trafford. The £85m defender has endured a difficult time since moving to the club and was dropped for games against Liverpool and Southampton.
The Sun says that Erik ten Hag has told Maguire he is no longer first choice at centre-back and with rumours saying that Chelsea could start to pursue Maguire, Evra reckons his old side should cash in.
“I can say people are too harsh on Harry Maguire, but he is paying the price for his transfer fee.” said the Frenchman, “From that day, I said he is going to have the most difficult season for United because people only looked at the price. If we bought him for £5m, people would say he’s an amazing centre-back. We all have bad games but now we’ve got to a point where even if he has a good game people are not happy.
“So there’s a negativity around him.”