Former Manchester United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar has lauded a player who swapped Ajax for the Red Devils in the summer, backing him to become one of the top stars in the world.
In April, Man Utd announced Erik ten Hag would leave Ajax and take over at Old Trafford at the end of the 2021-22 campaign. This immediately saw several of his Ajax players linked with moves to Man Utd.
These included Jurrien Timber, Brian Brobbey, Edson Alvarez, Lisandro Martinez and Antony.
Ultimately, Martinez and Antony were the only two players to leave Ajax for a Ten Hag reunion at Man Utd.
According to Sky Sports, the Manchester outfit spend £56.7million to sign centre-half Martinez. He penned a five-year contract with his new club.
Man Utd also parted with an astonishing £86m to capture Brazilian winger Antony. It saw him become their second most expensive arrival of all time, just short of the £89m re-signing of Paul Pogba.
Martinez has impressed in defence under Ten Hag, shaking off concerns about his height by still managing to win aerial duels. And he is tenacious when it comes to tackling strikers and closing them down.
Antony has shown glimpses of his obvious talent. Ten Hag knows the 22-year-old very well and should be able to help him become more consistent, which could see him become a real star in the Premier League.
Man Utd player backed for bright future
Van Der Sar, who made 266 appearances for Man Utd and helped them to win four league titles, has now heaped praise on Antony.
The Ajax chief executive reckons Antony can turn himself into a household name if he keeps working hard.
When asked about Antony, Van Der Sar told The Athletic: “Still young, still [got] potential.
“We would have liked to keep him here one year longer. There was not a dire need to sell him, we had money in the bank. But the fee got so high.
“We challenged United to go as far as possible. They have a potential world star.”
It is intriguing to hear Ajax’s side of the story when it comes to the Antony discussions. Man Utd were originally hoping to sign him for far less than £86m, but Ten Hag pushed them to bring him in whatever the cost.
This resulted in Ajax making a huge profit on the player. They only spent an initial £13m to sign him from Sao Paulo.
Van Der Sar discusses Lisandro Martinez exit
Van Der Sar also spoke about the departure of Martinez. “Arsenal came earlier for Lisandro, but it was an amount where we said, ‘Thank you very much for the offer, but we’d rather keep the player than start negotiating’,” he revealed.
“With United, it was a little bit different. Over the years we have had a few conversations: Daley Blind, Donny van de Beek.
“My job is making sure I make the best decisions for Ajax.”
Ajax have a brilliant business model. They develop teenagers from their academy, as well as bringing in young players from other parts of the world.
These youngsters get first-team opportunities and often tend to impress. Once this happens, Europe’s elite teams sit up and take notice.
Ajax hold out for as much money as possible when selling their top assets, as Van Der Sar confirms. This allows them to replace the departing star, while also pumping money back into the academy and scouting system.
In the cases of Martinez and Antony, Man Utd look set to benefit from their big spending. However, Van De Beek has been a major disappointment. There are rumours of him leaving for Leicester next year.
Meanwhile, a top Man Utd target has sung the praises of a Liverpool star, setting up a potential move to Anfield.
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