Antony could complement Cristiano Ronaldo by addressing long-standing Manchester United void



Manchester United’s attack could look very different next season. With the likes of Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard, Edinson Cavani, Juan Mata and potentially Anthony Martial leaving the club, Erik Ten Hag has a job on his hands from him.

Cristiano Ronaldo appears to be one of the few offensive players from last season who will remain at the club. Although the Portuguese international is 37 years old, Ten Hag will likely try to build around him.

One of the players who is tipped to join the club this summer is Antony. The Brazilian spent last year at Ajax, which suggests the new Reds boss knows exactly what to expect from him.

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Aged just 22, Antony is regarded as a top talent right now. He arrived on the continent in 2020, moving from Sao Paolo for a fee of around £15m according to reports.

Although he’s a promising talent, the big question is whether his skillset will complement Ronaldo up front, as United essentially have a clean slate from which to work.

One of the main perks attached to Antony’s profile is his preference to use his left foot. Upon inspection of the squad at Old Trafford, Fred and Amad Diallo are the only two players who are left-footed aside from the team’s left-backs.

The right side of United’s attack has been under construction for a number of years, with the club struggling to source an established performer to assume that spot on a regular basis.

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Several different players have occupied the role in the past few years including Lingard, Pogba, Marcus Rashford and Daniel James to name but a few, but none have truly prospered.

In Antony, the Reds would be acquiring a player who is a natural on that side, with his left-footed preference allowing him to cut inside and cause problems for defenses.

If the South American was to perform to a high level, he would attract the attention of opponents to that side of the pitch, which could benefit Ronaldo who has always been inclined to drift towards the left of the field.

With Antony and a more offensive right-back ideally behind him, the attacking threat posed by United would be more evenly spread across the width of the pitch, which should make the team less predictable in the final third and could generate more space for Ronaldo to maximize.

Antony isn’t as much of a provider, though, especially in comparison to some of the players Ronaldo has played alongside in the past. In fact, Dusan Tadic was Ajax’s most creative player under Ten Hag by some distance last season, which perhaps offers an insight into why United are pursuing the signature of Christian Eriksen.

It remains to be seen as to how often Ronaldo will be directly fed by Antony next season, but his presence on the right side should benefit the team’s ability to generate opportunities to score from both flanks as opposed to one, as has been the case for the past few years.

Given that Ten Hag has coached Antony for the past two years in Holland, he should know exactly how to get the most from him in Manchester.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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