The biggest story in English football after incredible Euros win? Man Utd target to cost £16m more

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Antony reacts Credit: PA Images
Antony reacts Credit: PA Images

FOOTBALL’S COMING HO…ld on just a second. Antony is going to cost Man Utd how much? There are battles and explosions at Old Trafford.


Pride of Lionesses
Mediawatch is happy – and relieved – to see not only the depth and breadth of mainstream Euro 2022 coverage, but the platform it has been given. England’s remarkable semi-final victory over Sweden was no different:

  • It is the back page for every national newspaper on Wednesday – and the front page for most.

  • The Sun website has Dave Kidd’s comment piece on Sarina Wiegman top.

  • The Daily Mirror website has David Beckham’s quotes on how they have inspired his daughter top.

  • The Daily Star have Jeremy Cross’s report top.

  • The Times have Molly Hudson’s report top.

  • The Daily Telegraph have Tom Garry’s report top.

It is genuinely brilliant to see. But there is an odd one out and it goes by the name of the MailOnline, whose website led with considerably more important news the morning after England reached a major tournament final.

‘Leaked list shows the eye-watering fines Aston Villa players were subjected to before Steven Gerrard’s arrival… including £200 for every MINUTE they’re late to training and £50 for forgetting to bring birthday cake’

Football’s coming ho…nah, not interested now Aston Villa players are being fined for not wearing flip-flops in the shower.

Thankfully – mercifully – that lead story was changed around 10am. To something on the triumphant England team? An opinion piece from one of their newspaper’s handsomely-paid journalists, perhaps? Maybe a profile on Alessia Russo which is sold on a picture of her in a bikini? Actually no, leave that to the actual main MailOnline home page because obviously.

The story atop their football site was instead changed to this:

‘Antony will now cost Manchester United £84m: Ajax raise the stakes in fight to keep star winger out of former boss Erik ten Hag’s clutches by hiking his price by another £16m’

Enjoy those all-important clicks and get those Frenkie De Jong quotes ready for the final.


Ant and deck
On the subject of that breaking news from Simon Jones:

‘Ajax have dramatically upped their asking price for in-demand winger Antony in a bid to stave off interest from Manchester United.

‘New Red Devils manager Erik ten Hag is interested in bringing the Brazilian star to Old Trafford this summer.

‘But the Dutch side have raised their fee demand from £68m to £84m to underline he is not for sale.’

There is definitely at least one better way of underlining that a player is not for sale. Saying they are not for sale instead of setting an actual asking price, perhaps.

‘And in raising his asking price to a notional £84m – which United would be unlikely to pay – Ajax are effectively blocking the move.’

There is definitely at least one better way of effectively blocking the move. Blocking the move instead of setting an actual asking price, perhaps.

Still, we can all agree that ‘club puts valuation on player’ is far, far bigger news than ‘England reach major tournament final with massive win’.


Cristian belief
Man Utd might be challenging Chelsea for official Crisis Club status at this stage. Not only is transfer target Antony either not for sale or for sale at £84m, but Cristiano Ronaldo is leaving and not even Sir Alex Ferguson can stop him.

‘FERGIE AND UNITED FEAR LOSING BATTLE FOR RON’ is the Daily Mirror‘s back-page take as Jeremy Cross states that ‘Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson are losing the fight to talk Cristiano Ronaldo into staying.’

Over at the Daily Express, ‘EVEN FERGIE CAN’T KEEP CRISTIANO AT UNITED’ as ‘Cristiano Ronaldo looks to be on his way out of Old Trafford despite attempts by Sir Alex Ferguson to persuade him to stick around.’

Gideon Brooks adds that ‘efforts to persuade Ronaldo to stay at Old Trafford look doomed’.

It’s enough to make you forget Ronaldo has a year remaining on an arrangement which Manchester United also have an option to extend a further 12 months. Unless the Portuguese wants to pay a considerable sum to buy that deal out, there is no ‘battle’ or ‘fight’ for the club to lose and no need for Ferguson to be wheeled out to ‘persuade’ him to stay at a team to whom he remains contracted.

The only thing that looks ‘doomed’ are the attempts to pretend Ronaldo is the one in control of his own immediate future.


Christian belief
Speaking of ‘battles’…

‘Christian Eriksen’s battle for favoured shirt numbers slowing Man Utd confirmation’ – Daily Mirror website.

The long and short of that ‘battle’: Eriksen’s shirt number ‘has tended to be in the 20’s’ – apart from at Ajax where he wore 8, and with Denmark when he had the 8 and 10. But Luke Shaw wears 23 and as we all know, Frenkie De Jong will absolutely refuse to play in anything other than 21. That leaves Eriksen with only 24 and 26 – or 6, 14, 15 or 18 – to choose from.

‘United will need to come to a decision quickly,’ we are told, as if Eriksen risks starting the season wearing a shirt that bears only his surname and no number. The ‘battle’ rages on for now.


Explosive diarrhoea
‘Christian Eriksen drives Lisandro Martinez to explosive first Man Utd training session amid Cristiano Ronaldo talks’ – The Sun website.

Apparently ‘the speculation surrounding Ronaldo’ meant it was ‘an explosive first day for Eriksen and Martinez’ at Carrington. Which is absolutely not the same as an ‘explosive first Man Utd training session’ as that implies Eric Bailly clattered into someone and started a full-scale argument between the squad.

Elsewhere in the same publication, there is a rundown of Ronaldo’s ‘eventful’ return, with that downgrade betraying how truly mundane this supposedly ‘explosive’ day was.

‘[Ronaldo] arrived with the Portuguese deal-maker [Jorge Mendes] at Carrington in his £168,000 Bentley at around 10 a.m.

‘Ronaldo then sat down with his new manager Erik ten Hag and chief executive Richard Arnold for a meeting at 11.30 a.m.

‘The United chiefs reiterated Ronaldo is not for sale with Mendes said to be impressed by Arnold, particularly his willingness to listen.

‘Ronaldo also bumped into United legends Sir Alex Ferguson and Bryan Robson, who were believed to be at the training ground for a football board meeting with Arnold.

‘After that CR7 reunited with his team-mates and said hello to new signings Lisandro Martinez, Christian Eriksen and Tyrell Malacia.

‘Ronaldo was reportedly well received by the rest of the United squad who told him about pre-season and the close-knit group they have formed.’

There was also a debrief of their pre-season tour. All in all, that sounds so incredibly ‘explosive’ indeed.

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