Ajax are clearly worried they could still lose Antony to Manchester United before the end of the transfer window.
Like most sensibly run clubs, they are getting organised, and the signing of Porto winger Francisco Conceicao prompted speculation he could be Antony’s replacement.
Now Ajax have confirmed the signing of Conceicao is an insurance in case Antony leaves, with the club admitting they need to ready themselves.
Ajax technical manager Gerry Hamstra confirmed this to Het Parool, in comments which will give Manchester United hope over Antony.
Antony: Ajax confirm they have signed his replacement
Hamstra explained: “On the one hand you want to have immediately deployable players if you lose CL-worthy players. But at Ajax we also continue to think about the long term. How fast that happens depends on several factors.
“I can imagine that that goes a little faster with a Portuguese or European than with a boy from South America. So Conceição is another example of bringing the successor, in this case Antony, into your selection.”
The rest of Hamstra’s comments on Ajax’s transfer strategy were a little mixed, as he did insist the club do not wish to sell any more major players this summer. But it would be a surprise if he said the opposite, publicly, and he admits he cannot guarantee anything.
He said: “We now want to keep this group together. I assume that no one leaves this core anymore. Of course you can never say never, I’ve learned that by now.”
With regard to Lisandro Martinez’s transfer to United, he remarked: “It became increasingly clear that a longer stay was not feasible, because we are simply not at the top of the food chain.”
This is recognition Ajax cannot hold onto their top stars, and these comments will only encourage Manchester United over Antony.
Talksport reported yesterday that Manchester United are not giving up on signing the Brazil international.
The Times reports Antony is ‘determined’ to sign for United and reunite with Erik ten Hag.
Ajax’s price tag of £70 million has so far put United off, understandably, it’s an excessive figure. As the window drags on, some common sense may prevail, and a more reasonable agreement could yet be found.