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Manchester United agree £85m deal to sign Antony from Ajax

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The heute-

Manchester United have agreed an £85m deal with Ajax for winger Antony.

United will pay a guaranteed £80.75m and another £4.25m in add-ons for the 22-year-old, who is expected in Manchester in the next 48 hours to have a medical.

Antony was once again left out of the Ajax squad for Sunday’s game at Utrecht as talks between the clubs continued.

Personal terms are not thought to be a problem in this deal.

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United have been chasing Anthony for several weeks and also saw a £67.9m (€80m) offer rebuffed by the club earlier this week.

United have looked at other options as well. They have an interest in Barcelona striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and continue to keep an eye on his situation. Chelsea have been in talks over signing Aubameyang.

United’s interest remains in PSV Eindhoven’s Cody Gakpo. Signing both Antony and Gakpo has been described as “unlikely but not impossible”.

On Friday, in an interview with Italian journalist Fabrizio Romano on YouTube, Antony said: “Since February of this year, my agents came to Amsterdam to inform Ajax of my desire to leave the club to face a new challenge and that some interested clubs would arrive and, with them, certainly a great offer.

“During the window months, meetings concluded including a proposal from Ajax for contract renewal. I made it clear once again I want to leave the club.

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“Today in a meeting with the board I expressed my interest in leaving the club, this time with a considerable offer on the table. Others have already arrived [but] Ajax always refuses with the argument it only has five days to replace (me).

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“I’m not asking [for Ajax] to release me, I am asking Ajax to sell me as the highest bid received by a player who plays in the Eredivisie.”

A move to United would see Antony reunited with ex-Ajax boss Erik ten Hag, who has already recruited defender Lisandro Martinez from his former club.

“I was very happy in Amsterdam, I won titles at Ajax, made friends and built part of my career, but now I reinforce that I am ready and full of motivation to follow my story and my dreams,” Antony added.

“People need to listen to me and understand that my motivation moves me towards happiness. I need this to continue performing at a high level. Ajax will always be in my heart.”

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The transfer window closes at 11pm on Thursday, meaning United have four days after Sunday to complete any more deals.

Why Antony is Ten Hag’s man
“For sure, we hope he will be the next star of Ajax.” It was July 2020 and Erik ten Hag, Ajax’s manager at the time, was introducing Antony, the club’s new £20m signing from Sao Paulo.

“We at Ajax are always trying to strive for the top,” added Ten Hag. “So I expect he will do his best to reach that level of expectation. The rest, we will see in the future.”

Ten Hag was right to expect big things of Antony – the Brazilian, only 19 when he agreed his move to Amsterdam, swiftly established himself as one of Ajax’s key players – but even he could not have predicted he might one day take him to Manchester United too.

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Osimhen, Lookman snubbed for Serie A awards

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Super Eagles duo Victor Osimhen and Ademola Lookman have been snubbed for the end-of-the-season awards as neither of the two players was shortlisted by Italy’s football federation for the division’s annual MVP honours.

The Lega Serie A on Wednesday officially revealed the list of players for the end of the season awards but surprisingly, no Nigerian made the shortlists.

The current Serie A awards format which is in its sixth season has different categories which include the equivalent awards for goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders and attackers, as well as the league’s overall MVP, which will be announced directly, without a shortlist, on May 24.

For the best striker’s award, AC Milan’s Rafael Leao, Paulo Dybala of Roma and Juventus leading goalscorer Dusan Vlahovic were the three players shortlisted meaning there was no space for last season winner Osimhen.

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Last year, the Striker of the Year prize was handed to the division’s top goalscorer Osimhen, who was pipped to the overall MVP award by his teammate Khvicha Kvaratskhelia.

While he was not as prolific as he was last term when he finished as the Serie A top scorer with 26 goals, Osimhen still boasts of decent numbers considering how much Napoli have struggled.

He has 15 goals and three assists in 24 appearances in the Italian league and ended the season as Napoli’s best player.

Despite having his best season ever, Lookman was overlooked as Atalanta playmaker-in-chief Teun Koopmeiners, Scudetto winner Hakan Calhanoglu and Milan wide-man Christian Pulisic were listed for the best midfielder award.

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The former Leicester City forward has 15 goal contributions in 29 league games while also guiding Atalanta to the finals of the Italian Cup and Europa League.

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The Lega Serie A three-man shortlist for the Defender of the Year prize includes Inter Milan’s Alessandro Bastoni, as well as Juventus and Bologna centre-backs Gleison Bremer and Riccardo Calafiori.

Juventus stopper Wojciech Szczesny, Monza’s Michele Di Gregorio and Marco Carnesecchi of Atalanta will all vie for the best goalkeeper award.

Frosinone’s Juventus loanee Matias Soule, Torino wing-back Raoul Bellanova and Bologna leading goalscorer Joshua Zirkzee are the players listed for the Young Player of the Year prize.

According to Serie A, the awards are based on several different metrics, including stats recorded from tracking data and the ‘scientifically validated’ player rating system, which measures players’ in-game impact, movement and decision-making.

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BREAKING: Liverpool name Arne Slot new coach

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Liverpool Football Club has announced that Arne Slot has agreed to become the club’s new head coach.

The club disclosed that Slot will resume duty on January 1 after a work permit.

This was disclosed in a statement on the club’s website on Monday.

“Liverpool Football Club can announce Arne Slot has agreed a deal to become the club’s new head coach, formally taking up the position on June 1, 2024, subject to a work permit.

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“The 45-year-old will join the Reds from Feyenoord ahead of the 2024-25 season after a deal was reached with the Eredivisie club for his services,” it read.

Slot will replace Jürgen Klopp at the helm following his decision to step down from the post at the end of the current campaign.

Klopp had announced his decision to leave in January.

“The Netherlands-born coach will arrive after three highly successful seasons with Feyenoord, during which he led them to the league title in 2023 and was named Eredivisie Manager of the Year on two occasions.

“More recently, he helped the Rotterdam club to victory in the KNVB Cup in April after they defeated NEC Nijmegen 1-0 in the final.

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“Before moving to Feyenoord, Slot held the position of AZ Alkmaar head coach, and he had led them to second place in the table, trailing leaders Ajax only on goal difference, when the Dutch season was cancelled due to COVID-19 in 2019-20.

“During his playing career, he operated primarily as a midfielder, turning out for FC Zwolle, NAC Breda, Sparta Rotterdam and PEC Zwolle before hanging up his boots in 2013,” it further read.

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He will now soon become the first head coach of Liverpool FC from the Netherlands – with his first pre-season in charge of the squad set to get underway in July.

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NFF promises Eagles coach Finidi house, car after unveiling

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President of the Nigeria Football Federation, Ibrahim Gusau, has assured that newly appointed Super Eagles coach, Finidi George, will be provided with a house in the area of his choice and a driver to ensure smooth operation of his job, Theheute reports.

Gusau made these promises during the official unveiling of Finidi as Eagles coach on Monday where his assistants were also revealed.

After serving as an assistant to Portuguese coach, Jose Peseiro, Finidi was appointed as the substantive coach of the Eagles last month, beating the likes of Emmanuel Amuneke, U.S. men’s U-19 coach Michael Nsien, among other candidates to the job.

The 56-year-old will work with ex-international Daniel Amokachi and Benjamin James as assistants, Olatunji Baruwa as goalkeepers’ trainer, while Chima Onyeike will serve as fitness trainer and Turk Mehmet Ozturk as match analyst.

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Speaking at the brief ceremony in Abuja, Gusau said Finidi would be provided with a house and a driver while assuring that his salaries would be paid regularly.

“We want to avoid any issues of having conflicts in the area of paying coaches, for the coach we are going to arrange how we will be paying on a monthly basis but for every other assistant, we are engaging them on an invitational basis,” he said.

“We are going to engage them on an invitational basis, once we invite them for a match, qualifiers, or tournament; we give them whatever they are entitled to, including other allowances that the team is entitled to. Whatever the team is entitled to at any point in time, that is what the assistant coaches are entitled to and we will also agree on certain amounts that we are going to agree on to pay them whenever they come for matches or tournaments. We just want to avoid issues of having a crisis in the payment of salaries.

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“I want to assure Nigerians that we will do our best to make sure we support Finidi and give him whatever he needs to work and his salary will not be a problem because we will do our best to support him.

“Right now, as part of his contract, we must get him a comfortable house where he will stay in Nigeria which is in process and we will give him the privilege to agree on where he wants it, we will provide him transportation, he has a car already and we will provide him a driver. We just want Nigerians to support us in prayer.”

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The first task ahead of the former Ajax man is the World Cup qualifiers against South Africa and Benin Republic next month.

With his first real test less than a month away, the ex-international says his target is to qualify the Eagles for the 2026 World Cup.

“If you get to see my contract, it’s boldly written there what the NFF wants. But personally, my first target is to reach the 2026 World Cup and AFCON qualifiers will be coming up soon. But the major one are these two games we have which are against South Africa and Benin Republic. From there we will set the tone and take it from there,” Finidi said.

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