Antony: Winger Ajax signed to replace Ziyech already making case for big move

Paul Macdonald
Paul Macdonald Updated: 20 May 2021 11:26 BST 5 min read
Antony: Winger Ajax signed to replace Ziyech already making case for big move

Ajax signed Brazilian winger Antony to replace Hakim Ziyech when he moved to Chelsea earlier this year.

Then a teenager, he signed a five-year contract with Ajax in February after agreeing to join from Sao Paulo.

Just two years on from making his senior debut for Sao Paulo, Antony is quickly becoming one of the top prospects playing outside of Europe’s top-five leagues.

If Antony continues to impress in the Eredivisie, it will not be long before Ajax will also have to worry about replacing him.

Antony: Performances in 2020/21

The Brazil Under-23 international has made a swift adaptation to life in Europe.

“We are getting a creative player who can play in every position up front,” Ajax director of football Marc Overmars said after Antony signed.

So far, though, Antony has lined up almost exclusively on the right wing.

That was the case in Saturday’s 4-0 win over PEC Zwolle.

Antony thrived with a goal and two assists on the right of a front three which also contained Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Dusan Tadic.

He has made 11 league appearances for Ajax, with nine starts.

In those games he has racked up five goals and five assists with an impressive FC Rating of 7.4.

Antony also played four games in the Champions League, scoring his first goal in the competition against Midtjylland, who Ajax beat to third place in Group D to secure a Europa League spot.

Antony: Winger Ajax signed to replace Ziyech already making case for big move

Antony: Winger Ajax signed to replace Ziyech already making case for big move

He called playing and scoring in the Champions League his “family’s dream” and few would bet against him becoming a regular in the tournament going forward.

Despite his impressive numbers, it took him time to adapt to life in Europe.

“The tactical side was the hardest part,” he explained to The Guardian this month.

“The game was faster, more dynamic, smarter. In the beginning I had to alter my positioning, pressing and some other things. I struggled a bit.”

Who could sign Antony?

Given the January transfer window has not yet arrived, concrete reports of interested clubs are yet to emerge.

But it is only going to be a matter of time.

In the past, Antony has been linked with some top clubs, with Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool all connected with a move at varying times.

Given Premier League sides are among the strongest financially, it would not be a surprise to see Antony follow Ziyech to England in the future, perhaps as early as next summer.

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  • Borussia Dortmund are another team who have previously been credited with an interest.

    They were interested when Ajax moved quickly to sign him ahead of the 2020/21 campaign.

    Dortmund have long been seen an ideal club to get a taste of high-profile football, develop further and progress towards a huge transfer.

    Jadon Sancho, Erling Haaland and Jude Bellingham among the young stars who have already taken that path.

    The Bundesliga club would not want Antony’s price tag to go up too much from here though.

    How much would Antony cost?

    Antony cost Ajax around €16 million when they signed him, a figure that rises to €22m once add-ons and performance related payments are taken into account.

    With Antony still just 20 and playing in a premium position, that price-tag is almost certain to rise significantly if he ends up moving next summer.

    His contract until 2025 puts his current club in a strong negotiating position should suitors come calling.

    What next for Antony?

    Ajax are top of the table and Antony looks like he will be a key part of their title push this season.

    Quick, creative, instinctive and explosive, his performances in big games against PSV and Feyenoord in January will be watched closely by scouts.

    Analysts are keen to see him continue to develop the other aspects of his game to become a more rounded player.

    Ajax being in the Europa League gives Antony more opportunity to sample continental football.

    It is also a chance for clubs to scrutinise him further against better opposition than he will typically face domestically.

    Antony is certainly dreaming big, saying before Ajax’s match with Liverpool: “My goals are to become a champion, to make history, grow as a footballer, and to be an example on and off the pitch.

    “And maybe, in the future, who knows, enter the race to be crowned the best in the world.”

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