Former striker Andy Cole has compared Manchester United's spending habits to shopping at Primark and Zara amid Antony's ongoing struggles.

United, who will get their Premier League campaign back up and running against Everton on Sunday, signed Antony in September 2022 in a deal that could eventually be worth £85.5million. He was manager Erik ten Hag's leading target to strengthen the club's right-wing options after Jadon Sancho's underwhelming maiden season at Old Trafford in 2021/22.

However, Antony has not fared any better, currently finding himself without a goal since April and without an assist since May. He has scored eight goals and registered just three assists in 56 appearances for the club so far.

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Having brought in Rasmus Hojlund to spearhead United's attack in the summer, Ten Hag needed his wingers to be at the peak of their powers, providing ammunition for the Dane in the centre. However, Antony, though not alone, has failed to increase his attacking output.

Former Reds striker Cole, as a result, has compared Antony's struggles with Brighton & Hove Albion winger Kaoru Mitoma's successes. The latter has 10 goals and eight assists in the Premier League since the start of last season.

By contrast, Brighton paid just shy of £3m to sign the Japanese international, putting United's decision to invest almost 30 times more in Antony's signature to shame. Cole has compared the situation to clothes shopping, suggesting that visiting a higher end retailer should offer more quality than a trip to Primark, pointing to how United have not got their money's worth for the Brazilian.

Cole, speaking to Betfred, said: "I sometimes have to ask myself what Antony's strengths are? He doesn't take players on, he doesn't create chances and he doesn't score goals. So what are his strengths?

"We paid a massive amount of money for him. When you look at a club like Brighton who signed [Kaoru] Mitoma for £2.7million, then you have to ask what market are United shopping in when Brighton pays that for Mitoma and we end up paying £86m for Antony?

"Are we not shopping in the same market? It's like Primark and Zara; you think by paying more to shop at Zara, the quality will be better, but it turns out to be the same as Primark, so you end up paying more for the same thing.

"I look at the transfers we’ve made over the last 10 years and we've spent a hell of a lot of money on players that other clubs would have paid less for, so is it a case of United tax? We can't continue doing that."