Antony Santos transfer to Manchester United could cause a problem for two former players


Just over 13 months since Manchester United invested an eye-watering £72.9million in Jadon Sancho to solve their right-wing issues, they are now on the cusp of signing Antony for an even bigger fee in the hope of correcting the exact same problem.

United, who will be going in search of a third successive win when they travel to Leicester on Thursday, are on the brink of completing the signing of the Ajax winger in a deal that will make him United's second-most-expensive addition of all-time. He visited the club's Carrington training base on Monday ahead of finalising his €100million (£84.66m) switch.

It is an astronomical sum of money that United are prepared to part with to sign the Brazilian, who was identified as manager Erik ten Hag's top target to strengthen his attacking options several months ago. The Reds have kept tabs on him throughout the summer, even when Ajax slapped an enormous price tag on his signature, in an attempt to send any suitors packing.

But despite expressing interest in other options, including PSV Eindhoven's Cody Gakpo, Antony has always been Ten Hag's choice. The United boss knows the 22-year-old inside out from their time together at Ajax and always considered him as the answer to strengthen his side's wide options.

Such is the size of the fee, Antony will arrive at Old Trafford, just like former Ajax teammate Lisandro Martinez, who has already swapped Amsterdam for Manchester this summer, with the expectation of being handed a starting berth every week. He will join United to strengthen the team first and foremost, not the squad.

Considering he is being added to Ten Hag's pool of attacking options to strengthen the right-wing berth - a position United thought they had significantly improved last season with the signing of Sancho - it suggests that it will be a straight shoot-out between the pair of them to make the right-wing berth their own. In Antony's favour, he is being signed for a lavish amount of money and is being reunited with the manager that is directly responsible for United forking out a fee of this size.

All of the pointers suggest that he will make the right-wing berth his own, although it remains to be seen how he will deal with the increase in quality, such is the gulf in the class between the Eredivisie and the Premier League. But should Antony adapt to life in England with ease, and have an immediate impact, Sancho will find himself in a difficult situation.

Like Antony, however, Sancho will also have the ambition of playing week-in, week-out. Although he has not produced his best football in a United shirt as of yet, he remains young enough at 22 to come on leaps and bounds, particularly in a Ten Hag system, where there is an onus on a fluid front-three to shine.

Sancho's saving grace could be that he has produced his best football in a United shirt so far from the left-flank. He was a real threat from that position in the second-half of last season and many fans believe Antony's arrival will mean that he returns to that flank.

That, though, will only result in Sancho being in the exact same boat, facing competition with Marcus Rashford for a starting berth on the left. Rashford, following Anthony Martial's introduction at half-time against Liverpool last Monday evening, showed how influential he can be on that flank, meaning he will also have ambitions of starting week-in, week-out, too.

Rashford has often produced his best performances for United from that area of the pitch, meaning that is another element Ten Hag will have to bear in mind, as he attempts to work out his preferred front-three. The ongoing uncertainty surrounding Cristiano Ronaldo's future does not help matters, as it remains to be seen if he will stay and, if so, whether he will continue as United's striker-in-chief.

If he departs ahead of the deadline, it is possible that Ten Hag could move Rashford inside and use him as a striker, as that would ensure he has the fluid front-three he craves, featuring Antony, Sancho and Rashford. However, Martial, too, will also have aspirations of earning regular minutes after impressing in pre-season and against Liverpool.

Antony's addition to the squad certainly adds an extra degree of quality and flexibility, but it also has the potential to give Ten Hag a big selection headache. Sancho, however, is now under enormous pressure to perform, especially with the World Cup looming.

News source: Manchester Evening News

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