On 1 September 2022, Manchester United signed Brazilian Antony Matheus dos Santos from Ajax. The Red Devils’ manager pursued the winger’s signature for a far-from-paltry sum of £86m.
The hefty price tag makes Antony United’s second most expensive signing, behind Paul Pogba.
Antony is still to repay boss Erik ten Hag’s faith in his quality. Despite a dazzling start to his Manchester United career in which the winger netted against Arsenal on his debut, he has put in a string of underwhelming performances since then.
On Tuesday night, the Red Devils played a dominant game against Nottingham Forest, coming out 3-0 winners. United’s return to Premier League football was a glorious occasion with goals from Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, and Fred. On the other hand, Antony’s performance left much to be desired. The No.21 has failed to contribute either a goal or assist in his last 11 games for club and country.
Another Brazilian talent gone begging?
While an emotional Antony was selected to represent Brazil in Qatar, he only started one game for the Seleção.
Tite, Brazil’s World Cup coach, opted to play Raphinha and Vinicius Jr down the wings ahead of Antony.
Antony has had undoubted flashes of brilliance, but staunch United supporters will remember the unfulfilled potential of Brazilian signings of the past. The likes of Anderson and Kleberson arrived at Old Trafford surrounded by excitement but ultimately failed to deliver.
Antony must step up
In addition, gaffer Ten Hag is currently strapped for attacking options. Marcus Rashford is in scintillating form but cannot shoulder the responsibility of scoring alone. Similarly, Anthony Martial is playing again and back among the goals, but the Frenchman is susceptible to injury.
Couple those concerns with the loss of Cristiano Ronaldo and the absence of Jadon Sancho, and it’s easy to see why all eyes are on United’s blockbuster signing from Ajax.
He needs to rise to the occasion sooner rather than later.
The only solace at this point of the season for manager Ten Hag is wonderkid Alejandro Garnacho. Garnacho burst onto the scene earlier in the season before the break for the World Cup.
The youngster always looks like a threat when he’s on the pitch.
Despite being shrouded in drama off the pitch for most of the season, United are playing well on it.
Antony, a player with no shortage of confidence or ability, as evidenced in his flamboyant trademark 360 turns, must turn a corner and restore the Old Trafford faithful’s trust in his potential.