Manchester United face another personnel headache following allegations of assault made against winger Antony just two weeks after the club decided to part ways with Mason Greenwood.
The Brazil star has been dropped from the national squad for World Cup qualifying games following the allegations by an ex-girlfriend and all eyes are on how the Old Trafford club will react.
The Red Devils announced last month that forward Greenwood, arrested in January 2022 over allegations relating to a young woman after images and videos were posted online, would leave the club by mutual agreement.
The two cases add to an uneasy start to the Premier League season for United.
Their form has been patchy while unpopular owners the Glazer family have reportedly taken the club off the market after failing to attract an offer that meets their asking price, compounding a feeling of uncertainty.
But top of the in-tray for the club’s hierarchy in the immediate future will be deciding how to tackle the Antony case.
The Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) said the player had been stood down in order to “preserve the alleged victim, the player, the Brazil team and the CBF”.
The 23-year-old denied physically assaulting Gabriela Cavallin in a statement on Instagram on Monday, stating he was the “victim of false accusations.”
It came after the Brazilian press published WhatsApp messages reputedly between Antony and Cavallin in which the player allegedly threatens his ex-partner.
In one of the conversations cited by Brazilian media, Cavallin says he must apologise for “kicks and assaults”.
Antony then appears to reply “sorry” in response.
Cavallin is also shown in one photo with an apparent head wound.
In a statement to Britain’s Daily Telegraph, Greater Manchester Police said they were “aware of the allegations made and enquiries remain ongoing”.
Antony joined United last year for an initial fee of 95 million euros ($102 million) but has struggled to perform consistently, scoring just eight goals in 48 games.
However, football considerations will likely take a back seat as United consider their options after coming under fire over their handling of the Greenwood case.
The 21-year-old England striker had faced charges including attempted rape and assault, but prosecutors announced in February this year that the case had been dropped after key witnesses withdrew and new evidence came to light.
Reports that the club were planning to retain the player following a six-month internal investigation were met by a public outcry and the club said in August he would rebuild his career elsewhere.
Greenwood subsequently joined Spanish side Getafe on loan and trained with them for the first time on Tuesday.
United are likely to come under intense pressure to drop Antony while investigations take place.
It comes in the context of a furore in Spain after federation chief Luis Rubiales kissed Spanish midfielder Jenni Hermoso following their victory at the Women’s World Cup – sparking a wider debate over the treatment of women.
The Spanish Football Federation on Tuesday apologised for Rubiales’ behaviour.
SOME TIME TO DECIDE
United have some time on their side as they are not back in action until 16 September, following the international break, but the Antony case is the last thing they would have wanted after a tumultuous start to the season.
The Red Devils, who finished third last season, have lost two of their first four Premier League games and have suffered a spate of injuries to key players including Raphael Varane, Luke Shaw and new signing Mason Mount.
Erik ten Hag is also considering how best to deal with a public falling-out with Jadon Sancho following United’s 3-1 defeat at Arsenal on Sunday.
The Dutch manager said the England forward, who was not in the squad for the Emirates game, had not reached the required “level” in training but that was quickly disputed by Sancho in a strongly worded statement on social media in which he described himself as a “scapegoat”.
It is still early in the season but United’s problems are spiralling.