Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag has added Dutch footballer of the Year Cody Gakpo to his wanted list - as the Cristiano Ronaldo rebellion continues to rumble.
Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong remains United’s No 1 target and Ten Hag is prepared to play a waiting game until the transfer window is about to slam shut to get his man. But Ten Hag is also continuing a search for a new forward with Ronaldo’s reluctance to spend another season at Old Trafford continuing to fester.
And with Ajax demanding £80million for Brazilian winger Antony, that has prompted Ten Hag to shift his attention to PSV Eindhoven highly-rated Dutch international Gakpo. Arsenal and Leeds have also registered an interest in 23-year-old Gakpo, who would cost around £40million.
But PSV will only listen to offers once their Champions League fate has been decided. Ruud van Nistelrooy’s side face a third-round play-off home clash against Monaco on Tuesday night after drawing the first leg 1-1.
If PSV prevail they will meet either Rangers or Belgian club Union SG for a place in the group stages which would bank them £60million. Gakpo has been compared to both Thierry Henry and Robin van Persie in that he is a tall, elegant performer who has become a central striker after starting his career as a winger.
Former United striker Van Nistelrooy played a key role in his development when he worked with Gakpo in PSV’s academy. Van Nistelrooy is now the club’s first-team boss - and would be devastated to lose the player voted the best performer in Holland last season.
Would Gakpo be a good signing for Manchester United? Have your say in the comments section below.
Gakpo scored 21 goals in all competitions last season, despite missing 12 games at the start of the campaign through injury. He has two brothers Sidney and Duc who are also professional players.
Sidney, the eldest of the three at 29, is planning to become his brother’s financial adviser when he retires after completing a business degree. Duc, the youngest, combines playing for PSV’s junior team with studying for a university degree.
Gakpo is represented by SEG, the powerful agency that also advises Ten Hag and Pep Guardiola. He has already confessed to being a huge admirer of the Premier League.
Gakpo said: “Those years where Manchester United were superior to anyone in England and in Europe, I found so impressive. But there are so many great games in England. Look at Liverpool , look at Man City.
“They are all bulging with talent and quality players. When they make a substitution the player coming on is sometimes better than the one who goes off. That is how much quality they have in their squads.”
He added: “Ruud van Nistelrooy has been a great coach for me. He has been teaching me with his experience from his years at United and Real Madrid. There are lots of details for a striker, like the positioning, where to make your runs - and it has paid off.
“I really don’t want to compare myself with Van Persie. I can only dream of my career heading the same way as his. And I can only hope that I can play for a great club once I go abroad. I know I will have to work really hard to achieve it.”