Man Utd's 2022/23 Premier League Fixtures
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Erik ten Hag is reportedly closing in on a deal to sign Ajax winger Antony; a player who would solve a major issue in the Manchester United squad that was highlighted by Gary Neville last year. United are hoping to conclude a £40million deal with the Dutch giants that would see Antony become Ten Hag’s first summer capture.
Ten Hag has a whole raft of issues to solve in the current United team and has spent the majority of the summer chasing a deal for Frenkie de Jong. However, United’s swift swoop for Antony highlights that Ten Hag recognises that he also desperately needs a right winger – something that was pinpointed by Neville last year when Paul Pogba was asked to deputise in an unfamiliar wide role.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Neville said: “If you asked him [Pogba] where he wanted to play in any of those front six positions, that would be the position he would like the least. It’s the one that [Marcus] Rashford would choose least. It’s the one that [Donny] van de Beek would choose least.
“It’s a position that needs fixing. Not just because of the output and the goals, but because of the balance – the balance of the team is not right. It needs to be dealt with.”
Ironically, United headed into the 2021/22 campaign with a whole host of attacking options after bringing Jadon Sancho to the club and re-signing Cristiano Ronaldo. But fast forward 12 months and the club currently have a dearth of options capable of starring on the right flank.
Jesse Lingard has now left the club, while Mason Greenwood is unavailable for the foreseeable future. Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial, two other candidates for the role, are woefully out of form and Martial could even be bombed out of the club for good this summer after spending the last six months of the season on loan with Sevilla.
Although Sancho had seemed like a natural solution to the problem, he has found his first season at Old Trafford difficult, while his best displays have arguably come down the left-hand side.
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But striking a deal for Antony would go a long way to finally resolving United’s issues down the right-hand side for good. The exciting 22-year-old was a key player under Ten Hag for Ajax last year, and his 12 goals and 10 assists from the flank helped the Dutch giants to their third Eredivisie triumph in four years.
Due to major issues elsewhere in the squad, United’s need for a natural right attacker has flown under the radar slightly; particularly due to recent concerns that have been raised as a result United’s awful defensive record last year.
However, Ten Hag has swiftly identified a long-term fix for an issue that has silently plagued United over the past 12 months. The onus is now on United’s new boss and the Old Trafford hierarchy to repeat the trick and find a breakthrough in their bid to strengthen the spine of the team.
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