Cody Gakpo: Huge decision made on future as Leeds chief Victor Orta returns from Holland a beaten man

Cody Gakpo of PSV Eindhoven during the UEFA Champions League play-off match between PSV Eindhoven and Rangers FC at Phillips Stadium

Cody Gakpo has reached a decision on his future following efforts from Leeds United to to hijack Southampton’s £34m agreement for the PSV Eindhoven winger.

The Netherlands star has been the subject of intense speculation all summer long. The likes of Arsenal, Manchester United and Leeds have all been linked with moves for the winger at one stage or another. And it’s easy to see why demand for the reigning Eredivisie Player of the Year is so high.

He scored an impressive 21 goals and added a further 13 assists last season, giving him a goal involvement every 1.3 matches. And he’s started the 2022/23 season in electric form too, netting six goals and adding three assists in just four games so far.

That tally included an impressive hat-trick on Wednesday evening as PSV smashed FC Volendam 7-1.

And with the clock ticking towards the 11pm deadline, it seems a deal for Gakpo would be a straight fight between two clubs: Southampton and Leeds.

Indeed, Southampton appeared to be in the driving seat, having had a club-record £38m offer accepted by PSV. The Dutch side made it clear to the player, however, that while the bid has been accepted, they did not want to lose him.

Saints’ concerns that they could be beaten to the deal accelerated on Wednesday evening after a late move from Leeds.

Their interest in the 23-year-old has been rekindled following an injury to leading scorer Rodrigo.

Their director of football Victor Orta chartered a private jet to take him to Eindhoven, where he met with club officials.

It is understood he agreed to match Southampton’s offer for Gakpo, with the winger himself ready to make the switch.

Cody Gakpo has last-minute change of heart

Gakpo was ready to board the flight with Orta back to Leeds on Thursday morning. However, a last-minute change of heart from the player saw him contact Orta and tell him he’s changed his mind.

Instead, according to widespread reports, Gakpo will instead stay with PSV for the season.

Sky Sports reports that Orta has now returned to Leeds empty handed, leaving Leeds with just hours left to find an answer to their attacking issues.

Southampton have also missed out on his signing too. It is understood the player never truly considered a move to St Mary’s with Saints’ interest quickly declined.

The winger spoke of his impending future decision following PSV’s win on Wednesday.

“Whether this was my last match for PSV? I can’t answer that. The moment of truth is now upon us. During these hours a decision has to be made,” he told ESPN after the game.

“Now we have to look closely at what is best for me. What is the chance that I will still play for PSV this weekend? That really depends on the next few hours. I can’t answer that now.”

Winger’s decision will come as a big blow for Leeds

Gakpo’s decision to remain at PSV is huge news for the Eredivisie club and for Dutch football. Having seen Antony depart Ajax for Manchester United, there were fears another major player in Gakpo was about to move on.

However, the decision will not go down well at either Southampton or Leeds.

Ultimately, both sides’ lack of European football and, in truth, lack of trophy prospects, have probably done their chances.

For the pair, the news will come as a bitter disappointment.

Leeds were hoping to sign Gakpo as another wing option with Dan James likely to be sacrificed. To that end, the Wales winger is being linked with Tottenham, though another Premier League suitor has since burst on to the scene.

However, it seems unlikely now that Leeds will sanction James’ exit given their failure to sign Cody Gakpo.

It all means Leeds will be a little light in attack once again if another solution cannot be found.

The Whites face the prospect of being without Rodrigo for up to eight weeks following his shoulder dislocation. The full diagnosis is yet to be made public, however, on that front.

Leeds will start Patrick Bamford up front in Saturday’s match at Brentford. The once-capped England striker looked rusty, though, when stepping off the bench in the midweek draw against Everton.

Bamford is coming off the back of an injury-ravaged 2021/22 season where he only managed 560 minutes of Premier League football.

Should he break down again, Leeds will be left with just Joe Gelhardt as a ‘senior’ striker option. The 20-year-old, however, is more adept as playing as a No 10 and is also very tender in his development too.

News of their Gakpo failure comes after chairman Andrea Radrizzani dropped a transfer hint over the deal on social media.