Leeds United

Leeds United

Premier League • England

Cody Gakpo: Leeds chief Victor Orta offers reason for failed pursuit as he names Leeds signing who will ‘surprise’

Cody Gakpo of PSV celebrates his goal during the Dutch Eredivisie match between Feyenoord and PSV at Stadion Feyenoord

Leeds director of football Victor Orta has spilled the beans on his club’s failure to convince PSV to sell Cody Gakpo on transfer deadline day – but reckons one of the Whites’ summer signings is destined for big success.

The Netherlands attacker finds himself a man in demand after a brilliant years in the Eredivisie. Gakpo smashed in 21 goals and weighed in with 15 assists last season to underline his qualities. And he has taken that on to another level already this season, scoring nine times and adding six assists from just eight appearances.

As such, it’s little wonder to see Gakpo as a player in enormous demand. Manchester United were the first to make inroads into his signature, even agreeing personal terms with the player. But the Red Devils backed out of the move once a deal for Antony edged closer.

Southampton were the next to try their hand, offering PSV a club-record deal in the process. That was not enough, though, to consider PSV to sell.

Fewer clubs came closer than Leeds, however, to landing Gakpo. With Orta boarding a flight to Eindhoven on the penultimate day of the window, if all went to plan, he’d have returned to Yorkshire upon his private jet with Gakpo in tow.

Sadly for Leeds, Orta returned home on his own, with Louis van Gaal seemingly having a role in the Whites’ failure to sign him.

As it turns out, Leeds’ offer did not quite tempt PSV into selling their star man. Per their Marcel Brands, Leeds’ offer was not quite enough in terms of the way the deal was structured.

Orta defends PSV right to keep Cody Gakpo

Discussing Leeds’ summer bid of £26.6m (€30m) up front and £11.3m (€13m) in add-ons, Brands hints a restructured offer would force a re-think.

On reports of a €43m  bid from Leeds, PSV chief Brands told Voetbal International: “It was €30m plus €13m, of which only €2m were realistic.

“For example, we would get €6m if they made it to the Champions League.

“Bonuses are only good for me if they are realistic. This was the very best offer and we all said no to that.”

Speaking for the first time about that failure, Orta has spoken to the Daily Telegraph.

“We tried with Cody Gakpo. I respect his decision not to come to Leeds. And I also put myself in the shoes of PSV and I understand they couldn’t find a replacement at the last minute,” he said.

Leeds also missed out on Bamba Dieng on deadline day with doubts over the player’s fitness ultimately seeing the move breakdown.

However, Orta believes the one man they did land on deadline day – Italy striker Wilfried Gnonto – is destined for big things.

“We couldn’t reach an agreement for Bamba Dieng either. In the end we decided on Wilfried Gnoto, who I think is going to surprise.

“He can play inside, outside, he has already made his debut for the Italian national team and has a mentality that is overwhelming. We have to be very calm, but I think the team will not be short of goals.”

Leeds chief happy with transfer window

Orta, who has since been linked with Chelsea’s sporting director vacancy, insists Leeds can be happy with their business.

After going dangerously close to relegation last year, the club decided big changes were needed. To that end, they sacrified their two biggest stars in Kalvin Phillips and Raphinha. That cash was then used to make nine new signings.

Five of those have already strongly featured this season. And Orta reckons Leeds’ squad is better equipped for the challenges ahead.

“The first thing I would say is that 90 per cent of the signings came in before pre-season in Australia, and that’s valuable.

“The players have adapted quickly. We sold two players – Kalvin Phillips and Raphinha. Then we brought in five others and three young players with a lot of future. Frankly, we’ve gained depth on the bench, we have more alternatives.”

Honestly speaking, Orta is right. Leeds have a much better squad this season with a far stronger bench typifying their stronger options. Marc Roca and Tyler Adams have been signed with £12m to spare for the deal that saw Phillips sold.

And in Luis Sinisterra, they have a star winger who looks more than capable of filling Raphinha’s void.

READ MORE: Ranking all nine of Leeds United’s summer signings from worst to best