Chelsea set to play unexpected role in Man Utd pursuit of Antony transfer

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Chelsea could hold the key to Manchester United’s transfer deal for Antony, according to reports from Holland. The Red Devils are now preparing to submit a new, improved offer for their forward target after their initial £67million proposal was immediately rejected.

Ajax feel under no pressure to sell but with the player now agitating for a transfer, a move will fall under consideration should their £84m valuation be met.

Furthermore, the Dutch giants would ideally like a replacement signed first before they shake hands with Manchester United and Chelsea attacker Hakim Ziyech is now in their crosshairs.

Ziyech spent four seasons at Ajax before moving to Stamford Bridge in 2020 but after two underwhelming seasons in west London, the Moroccan is now keen on returning to the Amsterdam Arena.

According to Dutch journalist Gerjan Hamstelaar, Ajax need Chelsea to lower their demands for Ziyech or alternatively find another target of similar quality – otherwise, Antony is likely to stay put.

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Ajax want to ensure they have a substantial successor for their Brazil international and so far, their other forward targets outside of Ziyech are not up to scratch.

It means Chelsea could effectively prove integral to United’s hopes of striking a deal for Erik ten Hag’s former favourite as United prepare to launch their second offer.

Ziyech is understood to have met with Ajax chief Klaas-Jan Huntelaar on Monday to discuss a potential return to Ajax.

The 29-year-old wants the move back but ultimately his future lies in the hands of his current club Chelsea as the attacking exodus continues in west London.

Romelu Lukaku (loan) and Timo Werner have already left the club and Christian Pulisic and Ziyech could be next – despite Thomas Tuchel’s reluctance to weaken his squad.

Callum Hudson-Odoi also looks poised to join Bayer Leverkusen on loan which could also complicate Ziyech’s return to Ajax.

Express Sport understands Ziyech’s move to Ajax is not entirely dependant on the sale of Antony, however, there’s an appreciation that it’s far likelier to materialise should the 22-year-old join United.

Antony was left out of the Ajax squad that won 1-0 at Sparta Rotterdam last weekend after admitting he was not in the right frame of mind to play.

He was also snapped on the sofa alongside his agent watching United’s 2-1 win over Liverpool on Monday.

The post was hastily deleted to avoid pouring extra fuel onto the fire but eagle-eyed United fans were quick to screenshot the images.

Ajax head coach Alfred Schreuder still remains confident the player will remain at the club beyond the transfer deadline.

“Antony is not training with the group, but I do see him every day. Nothing has changed since last Sunday,” he said.

“We don’t have a deadline. But I am assuming Antony will stay. He has a contract at Ajax.”

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