Ajax are expecting Manchester United to return with a new bid for Antony and are putting plans in place for his possible departure by targeting former playmaker Hakim Ziyech, 90min understands.
Antony has been Erik ten Hag’s first choice attacking target ever since he took charge at Old Trafford, but Ajax’s demand for a club-record fee of £78m had stopped United in their tracks.
However, the Red Devils’ turgid start to the season has pushed them to revisit their transfer strategy and Antony remains the player they are desperate to bring in up front.
United’s most recent bid for Antony fell £10m below Ajax’s asking price, but sources have confirmed to 90min that the Eredivisie giants are expecting an improved offer to come in – and the belief within the club is that the Brazilian will eventually move to Old Trafford.
Antony, who was mysteriously absent from training on Friday, has long wanted to join Ten Hag at United – 90min revealed in July that the Brazilian was frustrated by Ajax’s stance over a move – and it’s believed that he’s now willing to push for a deal to be agreed.
Knowing a departure is becoming more and more likely, Ajax are putting plans in place to replace Antony – and sources have confirmed to 90min that out-of-favour Chelsea playmaker Hakim Ziyech is being lined up for a return to Amsterdam.
The 29-year-old, known as ‘The Wizard’ during his four-year spell at Ajax between 2016 and 2020, has been told he can leave Stamford Bridge by Thomas Tuchel, and had been of interest to AC Milan earlier in the transfer window.
But Ajax are now looking to initiate a loan deal for Ziyech, which could set the wheels in motion for Antony to finally move to United.
Even if Antony does join, 90min further understands that United don’t intend to bring in just one forward – meaning interest in PSV Eindhoven’s Cody Gakpo and Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic will not be sidelined.