Over at Manchester United, optimism is building that Antony will end up moving to Old Trafford. Erik ten Hag wants the Ajax star and, what’s more, the Brazil international is eager to swap the Eredivisie for the Premier League before the transfer window slams shut. And, if latest murmurings from Catalonia are to be believed, Memphis Depay may end up accompanying him to England this summer.
Manchester United want to bolster their attacking options before the transfer window shuts, with Erik ten Hag hoping to steer his side into the Champions League at the first time of asking.
The Red Devils know Cristiano Ronaldo wants out and, though they’ve repeatedly insisted the Portugal international isn’t for sale, there’s still a possibility they’ll cash in before September 1.
Edinson Cavani has already left, with the 35-year-old departing after two inconsistent years on these shores, while Mason Greenwood remains unavailable for selection.
Throw in the fact Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford continue to struggle for consistency, and it’s no wonder Ten Hag is on the lookout for new attacking reinforcements.
Over at Old Trafford, the club are growing in confidence they’ll be able to sign Antony. The Brazilian, who netted eight goals and clocked up four assists in the Eredivisie last term, is viewed as one of world football’s most-exciting talents for the future.
But, over the past 24 hours, it’s emerged Ten Hag would also like his side to secure the signature of Depay as well.
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Like when he first joined United back in the summer transfer window of 2015, when Louis van Gaal ruled the roost, his arrival would be an exciting one.
When United did bring in the Netherlands international seven years ago, they believed they were signing the heir to Ronaldo’s throne – which was why he was given the No 7 shirt.
Depay had flourished for PSV Eindhoven, netting 22 goals in his final 30 league games for the clock and registering five assists along the way.
In the end, however, his time at United didn’t work out.
Van Gaal and Depay clashed at Old Trafford and it was the forward who paid the price, with the now 28-year-old frozen out towards the end of his first and only full season at the club.
The Netherlands international was left out of the squad for the 2-1 win over Crystal Palace in the 2016 FA Cup final, much to his frustration.
And when Jose Mourinho came along, things didn’t improve. Depay would feature in the Premier League just four times under the Portuguese before being offloaded to Lyon in January 2017.
Since then, however, the forward has rediscovered his swagger.
Despite Lyon failing to dethrone Paris Saint-Germain as Ligue 1 champions during Depay’s time in France, he still clocked up the impressive statistics of 76 goals from 178 games.
In his final season at the club, before joining Barcelona last summer, he was named in the UNP Ligue 1 Team of the Year – where he was deployed on paper alongside Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.
That form then earned him a move to Barcelona in 2021.
And though the Catalan giants endured a difficult season under both Ronald Koeman and Xavi last term, the 28-year-old showed his class by netting 13 goals in 38 games.
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That made him Barcelona’s top scorer for the campaign, alongside Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – who moved to the Nou Camp from Arsenal on a free transfer in January.
And Depay has always been consistent for his country, too, scoring 42 goals in 80 appearances so far.
During his first spell at United, the forward made the error of trying to be too glamourous. He once turned up for a reserves game in a Rolls Royce, which prompted a firm telling off from Wayne Rooney.
But Depay has learnt from the mistakes of the past and, over the years, has gone on to establish himself as one of the best forwards on the planet.
If United do bring him in, it will be an exciting deal – especially given his price tag could be as low as £8million.
Yet whether they bring him in, as well as Antony, remains to be seen.
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“I’ve thought a lot about why it went wrong,” he said. “The first season I had to adapt and it didn’t go well compared to my time at PSV.
“I lost a bit of confidence and I lost the confidence of Van Gaal and his staff.
“It was hard for me. The following season I felt like I had more experience, but they changed the coach.
“Jose Mourinho came and I fought to get into the team but I think the idea of giving me a chance was never in his head. He never gave me an opportunity. Never.
“I went to his office but it changed nothing. It was a very difficult period, I felt that I was training well and the players themselves did not understand it.
“Pogba and Zlatan told me: ‘Why don’t you ever play?’ For me that was the confirmation that I had no chance. And I realised that I didn’t want to be in a big club without playing.”
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