Leeds United

Leeds United

Premier League • England

PSV Eindhoven and John de Jong part company as truth emerges of plans to sell Arsenal, Leeds target Cody Gakpo

John de Jong during the friendly match between PSV Eindhoven and Cercle Brugge at PSV Campus De Herdgang on July 2, 2022 in Eindhoven, Netherlands

PSV Eindhoven have formally announced the exit of technical director John de Jong – but the Eredivisive giants have to quell speculation his exit evolves around a controversial plan around star player Cody Gakpo.

The 45-year-old has been a player, head scout and most recently their technical director with PSV over a glittering 22-year career. That comes amid claims in the media that the Eredivisive giants were unhappy at De Jong’s willingness to cash in on Gakpo this summer.

The PSV captain was strongly linked with Manchester United earlier in the summer. United went as far as agreeing personal terms with Gakpo, only for the transfer to ultimately fail. Indeed, their interest faded as they drew close to the signing of Antony.

Gakpo himself has since come clean on just how close he was to signing for the Red Devils.

As a result, Gakpo was then widely expected to stay at the Philipps Stadion.

However, further speculation on Gakpo’s future saw Arsenal linked with a move. Southampton also made an approach for Gakpo late in the window, seeing a £32.8m bid rejected.

But few clubs came closer than Leeds to actually getting a deal done. On the penultimate day of the summer window, their director of football Victor Orta chartered a flight to Eindhoven to try and sanction his signing.

At one stage, it looked as though an agreement had been reached. However, a last-minute change of heart at the PSV end saw Orta return to Yorkshire a beaten man.

Reports in the media since say encouragement over Gakpo’s potential sale may have come from De Jong.

And with Gakpo ultimately staying, reports claim PSV are calling time on De Jong over that desire to sell.

De Jong exit not related to Cody Gakpo sale plan

PSV have now released a statement confirming De Jong’s departure. However, director football Marcel Brands has gone to length to state his exit is not related to Gakpo.

In a statement, Brands did however, reveal a loss of confidence in De Jong.

“After a hectic last week of the summer transfer, I had an evaluation with the Board of Directors,” says Brands. “It has emerged that there has been a unanimous breach of confidence in the Board with regard to the functioning of John de Jong.

“The management has always remained a unit.

“Both during and after the transfer window, but for John personally it has been a reason to think about his future. After a few days of reflection, John indicated that an indispensable form of backup has been lost for him.

“We have closed the case with the utmost respect and sincerely wish John the very best.”

In a video statement on PSV’s Twitter feed, Brands insisted: “I can easily debunk the rumor about the Cody Gakpo transfer.”

De Jong speaks out

In his own statement, John De Jong did not mention Gako directly, but did indicate he always puts the health of the team first.

Any sale of Gakpo will have netted PSV a fee in the region of £38m – a hefty package as far as the Eredivisie club are concerned.

“I have always put PSV’s sporting ambitions first in everything, with an eye to the financial health of the club,” he said.

“Every decision taken this summer had the support of the entire management. This staff and selection are able to make it a successful season. As a PSV man I have worked with the club nearly half of my life in different roles with the club. I will cherish the memories.”

Gakpo has managed nine goals and six assists in his 12 appearances for PSV so far this season.

And Dutch pundit Rene van de Kerkhof reckons Gakpo will emerge as the big star of the 2022 World Cup.

“No joke, I think he will be the revelation of the World Cup,” van de Kerkhof said, as relayed by PSV Fans. He can play football so well, he always plays well against top team. I can see him excelling at the World Cup and becoming the surprise of the tournament.

“Of course, that will allow him to leave PSV during the winter break. But I think he will just finish the season and take PSV to the title.

“Leeds, Southampton… I have no contempt for these clubs, but Gakpo can do better. I don’t think England is right for him. Spain or Italy is more obvious.”

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