Ajax’s manager and sporting director have ripped into Man Utd over the way they conducted their late move for Antony.
The Red Devils left it late, but finally landed new manager Erik ten Hag’s number one target in the final third. Antony was reportedly available for as little as £50m earlier in the window. However, Ajax gradually bumped up their asking price as other elements of their squad were slowly poached away.
Indeed, Ajax had already lost prominent first-teamers Noussair Mazraoui, Nicolas Tagliafico, Ryan Gravenberch, Lisandro Martinez and Sebastien Haller during the window.
To ensure manager Alfred Schreuder wasn’t left without the proper tools at his disposal, Ajax slapped a whopping €100m price tag on Antony.
Yet even that figure wasn’t enough to deter Ten Hag and Man Utd. David Ornstein later claimed the consensus is it’s a spectacular overpayment, though How Anthony can quickly change the narrative.
Now, reacting to the Antony departure in public, Ajax sporting director, Gerry Hamstra, took aim at Manchester United.
Man Utd’s timing branded “so bad”
Via the Mirror, he said: “Manchester United’s timing was so bad. The last few days (of the transfer window) became even more hectic after Ajax had already gone through a major rebuild of the squad following the departure of lots of top-class players.
“It was so difficult to leave our new manager with such a void.
“We all think we lost too many first-team players who always start. [We] had a summer with totally different expectations.
“We wanted to keep the group together as much as possible to be able to perform well in the Champions League and to carry on being successful.
“That’s what we talked about with Alfred. Of course we knew there were a few snags. But no one had foreseen that our players would be bought for such huge sums of money.”
Manager Alfred Schreuder reportedly urged the Ajax hierarchy to stand firm on Antony as the window wound down.
However, his pleas ultimately fell on deaf ears when United proved willing to stump up a nine-figure sum in euros.
Hamstra continued: “I understand Schreuder’s anger, very much so.
“I have been a manager myself, I know how annoying it is when your best player leaves at the very last minute. We did not want this, we wanted to keep Antony.”
“You’re just a f****** player” – Schreuder on Antony
The Mirror then reported an ‘explosive row’ took place between Antony and Schreuder in the window’s final days.
The player broke his silence on his exit desires when speaking to Fabrizio Romano in a tell-all interview.
Per the Mirror, Schreuder is then quoted as saying: “I thought: you’re just af****** player. You have to train and play as every player should while under contract.
“I told him he would not be leaving. I thought it was weird behavior.
“It’s a shame it happened. Personally, I just think it’s bad. I’m angry about it, too. This sort of thing, so late in the window, frustrates you as a manager.”
Do Ajax pair have a point?
At the end of the day, the decision to sell Antony was made by Ajax and Ajax alone. If they fully intended not to sell, they simply didn’t have to.
The sums on offer would’ve proved difficult for any club to turn down, especially one like Ajax whose model relies on frequently selling their best players to help sign and develop the next generation. Though if they really wanted to stand firm, they could have.
The power of the Premier League in the current climate allows the likes of Man Utd and Chelsea to go above and beyond financially.
Money will always talk in football, though it’s important to remember it was the English clubs who were vulnerable not so long ago.
Chelsea saw Eden Hazard poached by Real Madrid, while Liverpool lost Philippe Coutinho and Luis Suarez to Barcelona.
Arsenal also fell at the mercy of Barcelona when losing Cesc Fabregas, while even Man Utd couldn’t keep Cristiano Ronaldo away from Madrid in 2009.
In the end, money will always play a factor and the power is with the English clubs at present.