Manchester United are targeting five transfers in this summer’s transfer window, as Erik ten Hag prepares for his first season as the club’s manager.
The Manchester Evening News understands that United are targeting a flexible forward this summer, ideally Ajax forward Antony, who played under Ten Hag last season. The 22-year-old scored eight goals and registered four assists in 21 league starts for the Dutch side last season, with the Brazilian’s impressive performances from the right of attack drawing admirers from all over Europe.
It is also understood that despite Barcelona demanding around £85 million, United are making progress in transfer negotiations for midfielder Frenkie de Jong, who also played under Ten Hag at Ajax before his move to Spain.
READMORE: Manchester United might already have their first disagreement with Erik ten Hag
So, if Antony was to make the move to United in the summer, what sort of impact could he have at Old Trafford? Could the Brazilian winger help United win a trophy next season? We simulated the 2022/23 season with Antony in United’s squad and this is what happened.
We ‘signed’ Antony for Man United in the summer transfer windows
To set up this simulation, we used the Football Manager 2022 editor to arrange for Antony to join United and Ten Hag to become United manager at the start of the 2022/23 season, using FM22 to run the simulation. This is what Antony’s in-game profile looks like on FM22.
At just 22 years old, there is plenty of time for Antony to become one of the deadliest wingers in Europe. His profile of him highlights how well-rounded he is with great Dribbling (16), First Touch (16), Technique (16), Flair (16) and Agility (16).
The Brazilian excels in terms of his technical ability and tends to cut inside from the right-wing onto his left foot to create chances or score goals. So, how did Antony perform for United in his debut season at Old Trafford?
Antony had a stellar debut season for United, scoring 15 goals and registering eight assists in 48 appearances in all competitions. The Brazilian’s 23 goal contributions ranked him as the fourth-most productive player at the club, only behind Cristiano Ronaldo (34), Bruno Fernandes (29) and Jadon Sancho (28).
Antony averaged a match rating of 7.39 in all competitions, highlighting just how consistent and brilliant his performances were for the Reds throughout the season. The winger ranked as the fifth-best performer at the club, with only Ronaldo (7.67), Fernandes (7.59), Sancho (7.44) and Maguire (7.40) ranking higher in terms of average match rating.
At the end of the 2022/23 season, Football Manager 2022 put together an overall best Manchester United XI, based on performances, statistics and other metrics. This is what the United best XI looked like at the end of the 2022/23 season as predicted by Football Manager 2022.
Full United best XI (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Dalot, Varane, Maguire, Shaw; Almada, McTominay; Antony, Fernandes, Sancho; Ronaldo.
Erik ten Hag reverted to his favored 4-2-3-1 formation with Antony on the right-wing, moving Sancho out to the left, with Marcus Rashford dropping to the substitutes bench. Thiago Almada was brought in and replaced Fred in the starting line-up alongside Scott McTominay in defensive midfield.
So, how did United get on in the Premier League and cup competitions with Antony in the squad? Let’s take a look.
Manchester United’s performance in all competitions
United finished fourth in Ten Hag’s debut season, comfortably qualifying for the Champions League after missing out in the 2021/22 season. Antony’s performances helped United close the gap to Chelsea, but the Reds remained a fair distance away from catching Liverpool and Man City.
United had the third-best attacking record in the Premier League, but their defensive frailties let them down as they conceded the highest amount of goals (46) in the top four. In comparison to the 2020/21 season, United finished two positions lower and with a worse goal difference by -2, but with one more win (24 out of 38 games).
In the cup competitions, United found success in the Europa League as they beat Porto 3-1 in the final to lift their first piece of silverware since they lifted the same trophy back in 2017. Domestically, United disappointed in the Carabao Cup after exiting the competition in the third round following a 3-2 defeat to Leeds, whilst they were dumped out of the FA Cup fifth round after losing to Man City on penalties.
Overall, this Football Manager simulation predicts that if United were to sign Antony ahead of the 2022/23 season, the Brazilian could become a key player for the Reds under Ten Hag, scoring 15 goals and registering eight assists in his debut season. Antony’s performances could help fire United to a Champions League qualification spot in the Premier League and help them win the Europa League, their first trophy for six years. But, the simulation also shows that United may have to improve defensively if they are to challenge for the Premier League title.
Would you like to see Antony sign for Manchester United? Let us know in the comments!
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.