Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag has struggled mightily in the opening weeks in his new role as Red Devils manager, which was compounded by a frustrating loss against Brighton to open the club’s 2022-23 Premier League program.
The Dutch tactician is expected to ring in another potential new era post-Sir Alex Ferguson after David Moyes, Louis van Gaal, José Mourinho, Ole Gunnar Solskjær, and Ralf Rangnick have all failed to stand the test of time in the wake of the legendary Scottish headmaster but has already started poorly both on the pitch and in the transfer market.
Though he headlined deals for Lisandro Martínez, Tyrell Malacia, and Christian Eriksen this summer, United has still failed to replace both Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matić, as well as find a long-term solution in the number 9 role while also upgrading forward options after the likes of Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford, and Antony Martial continue to underperform at Old Trafford.
Per reports from Sky Sports, the United boss could now be set to return to his native Netherlands once again with an interest in 23-year-old PSV Eindhoven captain Cody Gakpo.
Interest in Gakpo comes in the wake of United also being linked with a possible move for Watford’s Ismaïla Sarr, with either player throwing into question the role of former club starlet Marcus Rashford.
The versatile Gakpo, a full Dutch international and one of a cadre of standout performers for PSV, can slot into any role across the front three but is primarily utilized as a left-winger in Eindhoven, which could mean that Rashford - if not moved into a center-forward role once again and in direct contention with Cristiano Ronaldo - would become a depth option under Ten Hag with Sancho likely continuing on the right flank.
An Eindhoven native and one-club man, Gakpo has hit 45 goals and added 35 assists in 138 appearances for Boeren since he broke into the senior setup in 2018-19, with Ten Hag eyeing a potential move given that both he and Gakpo have the same agency representing them.
With United already struggling out of the gates this season in the final third after an Alexis Mac Allister own goal was all they could show for their loss against Graham Potter’s men at Old Trafford, Gakpo would offer badly-needed reinforcements in a campaign where United has been expected to climb back into the race for the Champions League places.
But any move for Gakpo will not materialize after both PSV and the player have insisted he will remain at the Philips Stadion in a bid to help the club qualify for the group stage of the Champions League, gifting the Dutch giants a financial windfall into the club’s coffers.
Dutch football expert Marcell van der Kraan stated; “He (Cody Gakpo) is the kind of player Erik ten Hag likes. Arsenal made a bid a couple of weeks ago, 5 Premier League clubs are interested but if the choice is there he’d go to Manchester United.”
“There is no way PSV will let Gakpo go anywhere before these Champions League games with Rangers are played. It doesn’t matter what is offered. They need Gakpo because they are desperate to get to the group stage and land that 40million. Then they will talk about selling him and they could get the same amount.”
For United, it will become a question of whether they wait another two weeks or move for a different option now - like the aforementioned Sarr - given the need to add further quality before the window closes.