Antony valued by Man Utd scouts at £25m prior to £86m signing - report

  • United's inefficient decision making revealed in damning new long-read
  • Antony signed by Manchester United for way over original Ajax asking price
  • Brazilian winger has struggled to make any kind of impact at Old Trafford
Antony has found the going tough at Manchester United
Antony has found the going tough at Manchester United / Richard Sellers/Allstar/GettyImages

Manchester United's scouts initially valued Antony at just £25m when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was in charge, a new report has revealed.

The Brazilian winger ended up becoming the club's second most expensive transfer ever in August 2022, behind Paul Pogba, after United agreed a deal with Ajax worth £86m.

Antony's first 16 months at Old Trafford have been anything but inspiring, with a lack of form and confidence on the pitch coupled with allegations of domestic abuse away from it.

The 23-year-old has played 38 Premier League games to date, scoring just four goals, and has made a 24 appearances in domestic and European cup competition. He has tallied a further four goals, bringing his overall total to eight, but has fallen well short of the lofty expectations place upon his shoulders when he arrived.

A detailed look from The Athletic at how United have been operating behind the scenes has spotlighted the chaotic and muddled running of the club, particularly when it comes to transfer dealings.

One deal of particular note is the one that took took Antony to Old Trafford from Ajax, at a time when Erik ten Hag was desperately looking to reinforce his forward options with game-changing quality.

It's noted that United's scouting team had watched Antony prior to Ten Hag's arrival, when club favourite Solskjaer was first-team manager, but the reports left valued him at around £25m - suggesting they were of the opinion that significant development was required to make him a top-level winger.

Erik ten Hag, Antony
Erik ten Hag pushed for the signing of Antony - but perhaps did not know the full extent of how the deal would affect club finances / Stu Forster/GettyImages

By the time United were negotiating with Ajax over a transfer in the summer of 2022, it was privately communicated that a structured deal worth £60m would be the most the Red Devils would be willing to pay.

Instead, with the summer window about to close and United and Ten Hag heading towards a dead end, they returned to the negotiating table and agreed to pay Ajax £86m for Antony - all but £4m of that fee in guaranteed money.

The deal left United unable to strengthen their squad in January because of concerns over Financial Fair Play compliance, and Ten Hag had to settle for the loan signings of Wout Weghorst and Marcel Sabitzer - both of whom are no longer at the club.

Antony's future at United is safe for now, given the level of investment, but widespread changes to how the club is run is expected to be implemented by INEOS owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe once his 25% investment is finalised.

The British billionaire, who also has a controlling stake in Ligue 1 high-flyers OGC Nice, will appoint a new football operations department at Old Trafford once his £1.25bn buy-in is ratified, restructuring a number of key decision-making roles.

90min first revealed that Newcastle United sporting director Dan Ashworth is being targeted by the new regime, with Sir Dave Brailsford, director of sport at INEOS and former team principal of the Team Sky/Team INEOS cycling team, also expected to take on a hands-on role.