Antony Matheus dos Santos, better known as Antony, is a Brazilian right winger. He is a product from the famous São Paulo youth academy. The 20 year old winger is 1.72m tall and played his first season as a professional footballer in 2019 where he played 26 games and scored 3 goals. In 2020, Antony was called up to the Brazilian under 23 team, to help Brazil qualifying for the Olympic Games.
In February, he was bought by Dutch giants Ajax for 25 million euro, including add-ons. He will join the Dutch side in July.
Antony is a player who mostly plays on the right side of the attack, providing width for São Paulo. He looks to make runs in-behind, in which he is very effective. He takes up a central position sometimes as well, playing in the half spaces to create space for the right-back to overlap. He enjoys having freedom to move and receive in more central areas and likes to move inwards when he has the ball.
In the defensive phase, the new Ajax player is very hard working, although he could be more effective. He needs to focus more to react when the ball is lost and making the right decision after reading the situation, but he is a very determined player overall.
Playing on the left wing his game is more limited as he can’t cut in as much, making him less likely to reach the box. He needs to receive in an open body position more, showing a lack of experience and not being exposed to play in another positions in academy football.
As said before, on the ball the São Paulo player always tries to pull inside, taking advantage of his dominant left foot. It is an explosive movement and can sometimes makes his game quite predictable but can also kill the momentum in deeper positions, since he rarely uses his right foot.
But even if you know where he will cut, it is still very difficult to take the ball from him. With a mix of notable ball control and elite agility, plus his futsal technique, Antony can past the opponent with ease, especially in tight spaces, using tricks, close control and variety of plays. His creativity to decipher the game can guarantee advantage even in numerical inferiority situations. The talented winger has ability to solve complex situations where there is little space, making him a valuable asset for his team.
São Paulo usually uses a 4-1-4-1 formation. The team concentrates his plays and attacks threats on the right side, taking advantage from the presence of the legendary fullback, Daniel Alves. Doing so, the right side becomes São Paulo’s most creative side and allows Anthony to create chances.
In the last season of the Brazilian league, Antony made 1.6 key passes, giving six assists and scoring four goals. Using his dribbling skills to reach better situations to assist, he has good vision and gives piercing passes to put his teammate in dangerous positions.
Although the precision doing the specific type of pass after dribbling was above average, Antony is not a specialist in passing. His passes do not show creativity nor variety, his body’s gesture makes the ball loses precision and speed when executing the action.
Another factor to take into consideration is that his ball reception is still not refined enough to put him in advantage over his rival and create space for himself, in fact it can be risky if the opponent can anticipate it. While that, he also has some difficulties when being marked closely by a defender, he lacks physicality and struggles in more physical challenges. For that matter, he needs to lower his centre of gravity, especially when driving in centrally, since it’s not uncommon to see him losing the ball when trying to shield, so better ball retention is required.
Meanwhile, he also needs a better use of his tools to increase his goal scoring. With an average of 2.2 shots per game, his Expected Goals (xG) was 4.2, scoring 4 goals. His shooting technique is limited, his instep followed by a bad follow-through results in weak shots that are easy to stop. His posture while moving is also an issue, since his upper body moves forwards, resulting in loss of balance. When he has time and space, he’s very precise to send the ball in the corners of the goal, the product of a better body position.
Also on that, he does have good movements to exploit the defensive line, his runs are well-timed but does not have a killer instinct to compensate the weak spots, making him less productive in this regard.
Lastly, his crossing is good. Not only because his correct timing, but like his passing, he can put right precision to make an accurate trajectory. Although he can overhit his deliveries or put them too high sometimes, making it difficult for the striker to get a strong connection.
Antony is indeed a talented player, with great technique to help the team, and has been one of the best players in the Brazilian football. With good conditions to develop, he can reach his potential playing by for the biggest club in The Netherlands and in a league more favourable to skilled players on individual duels, with a lot of space to exploit. One to watch!