Wednesday, August 31, 2022

By David Charlesworth, PA

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag rejected any suggestion the impending arrival of Antony is an indication that Cristiano Ronaldo is surplus to requirements at Old Trafford.

A deal is in place for United to sign the Brazilian forward from Ajax in a transfer worth a fixed fee of £80.6million, with a further £4.2m in add-ons, agreed between the two clubs.

With medical and player terms still to be finalised before the transfer window shuts on Thursday evening, former Ajax boss Ten Hag was tight-lipped about a swift reunion with Antony.

Cristiano Ronaldo has started just once for Manchester United this season (Kieran Cleeves/PA)
Cristiano Ronaldo has started just once for Manchester United this season (Kieran Cleeves/PA)

But Ten Hag insisted the signing merely augments United’s attack ahead of the club beginning their Europa League campaign next week, rather than a portent that Ronaldo may leave the club this week.

When directly asked about Ronaldo, who has settled for substitute roles in United’s last two matches and has been linked with a move to a Champions League club, Ten Hag said: “It is clear, we need quality players.

“You need more and to cover all the games to keep the consistency going, that’s what we strive for.

“Especially from offensive players, they are quicker fatigued because they have to run more and run with higher intensity. We expect that from them and our way of play.

“We need numbers there, we need not just quantity but quality.”

Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka has been strongly linked with a move to Manchester United (Mike Egerton/PA)
Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka has been strongly linked with a move to Manchester United (Mike Egerton/PA)

United have also been strongly linked with a move for Martin Dubravka and Ten Hag does not anticipate any more incomings if they complete deals for the Newcastle goalkeeper and Antony, having already brought in Tyrell Malacia, Lisandro Martinez, Christian Eriksen and Casemiro this summer.

Speaking ahead of Thursday’s trip to Leicester, Ten Hag said: “Firstly I have to sign (Antony). There’s an agreement between the clubs but the paperwork is not done so I cannot go too deep into that.

“For this window it will be the end (after Antony and Dubravka) but when there is a great opportunity you have to always be alert as a top club.”

United started their Premier League campaign with a humbling home defeat against Brighton before being humiliated at Brentford, losing 4-0, as they sat bottom of the standings after two fixtures.

But their fortunes have changed in the last couple of weeks after edging out fierce rivals Liverpool and then Southampton, and they can make it a hat-trick of successive wins by beating the Foxes.

Anthony Martial will miss United's trip to Leicester (Mike Egerton/PA)
Anthony Martial will miss United’s trip to Leicester (Mike Egerton/PA)

It has been almost a year since United, who will once again be without French forward Anthony Martial because of an Achilles injury, last won three in a row in the Premier League.

Assessing their recent uptick, Ten Hag said: “I see it as a start we now have a good base. This is the minimum we have to bring.

“I was happy to see the turn and we have to keep the spirit and keep this winning mentality because you need it if you want to have a successful season.”

Leicester have endured a miserable start to their season, taking just one point from an available 12, but Ten Hag refused to take anything for granted ahead of United’s trip to the King Power Stadium.

Ten Hag added: “Their identity is really good to see, they play really good football so we have to be really good to get a result there.”

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