Erik ten Hag explains Antony transfer delay and names most important Manchester United signing

    Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag explains Antony transfer delay
    The Dutchman says Ajax knew the Brazilian would leave since January (Pictures: Getty)

    Erik ten Hag has explained why Manchester United took so long to sign Antony and highlighted Casemiro as the key signing to help transform the culture at the club.

    The Red Devils moved early to bring in players at the start of the summer, securing deals for Christian Eriksen and Tyrell Malacia at the start of the window, but fans grew frustrated when a number of transfer pursuits appeared to hit roadblocks.

    But now Ten Hag has revealed that an £81.3million move for Antony – which was not completed until September 1 – was always in the pipeline but United were waiting for clarity over Mason Greenwood’s situation.

    ‘In January he had already indicated to Ajax that he would be gone in the summer and Ajax were already busy looking at another Brazilian and trying to sign Steven Bergwijn,’ Ten Hag told Voetbal International.

    ‘The fact that we did not immediately focus on the arrival of Antony with United had to do with the uncertainty surrounding Mason Greenwood and also the return of Antony after an injury.’

    Ten Hag inherited a squad that massively underperformed last season, only managing to finish sixth, but they have delivered some very encouraging displays in the current campaign and occupy fifth spot – four points behind third-placed Newcastle with a game in hand.

    Manchester United star Casemiro
    Ten Hag says Casemiro is a vital part of United’s rebuild (Picture: Getty)

    The former Ajax boss says United’s team were in disarray when he took over and lacked the mettle and spirit to compete for silverware, which is why he felt Casemiro was such an important signing to make.

    He continued: ‘Manchester United’s interest started in the spring. The club worked very meticulously and indicated they had three candidates.

    ‘I had a conversation with sporting director John Murtough and technical director Darren Fletcher about the football technical part, but that was by no means everything. I also had a conversation with the CEO and then the owners and an external agency was even deployed.

    ‘[I told them] there was no spirit in the team, I didn’t see any team dynamics in the squad.

    ‘The mental toughness was very low. The fighting spirit, fighting for each other, putting the team first – that didn’t really exist in the squad. Changing the culture was the most important thing for me when I took over.

    ‘To get that in the dressing room you need to have personalities, that’s why the signing of Casemiro was so important. He can speed up the process because he knows what you have to do to win titles.’

    MORE : Erik ten Hag reveals concern over Manchester United’s returning World Cup stars

    MORE : Erik ten Hag says Manchester United signing begged him to make bid so he didn’t have to join Arsenal

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