Ten Hag ‘determined’ to see Man Utd win race for incredible attacker, but exciting Plan B emerges just in case

Erik ten Hag, October 2022

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag is apparently ‘determined’ his team will beat the likes of Liverpool and Arsenal to the signing of Cody Gakpo, although he does have a backup in case the transfer falls through.

Gakpo is one of the hottest properties in Europe right now amid his brilliant season with PSV. The left winger, who can also play as a centre-forward, has registered 13 goals and 17 assists in 24 PSV appearances.

His incredible form in the Netherlands saw him become one of the first names in the World Cup squad for Louis van Gaal. And Gakpo has repaid the faith from his Netherlands manager.

He scored Holland’s first goal of the tournament by connecting with a Frenkie de Jong cross against Senegal. That game ended in a 2-0 victory.

And Gakpo was at it again on Friday, sending a thunderous left-footed strike past the Ecuador goalkeeper to give the Netherlands the lead.

Unfortunately for Van Gaal’s men, they couldn’t hold onto the lead as Enner Valencia equalised for Ecuador in the 49th minute. The match ended 1-1.

Gakpo’s first-half strike saw him receive praise from the likes of Ally McCoist and Nigel de Jong. McCoist said: “What a finish from Gakpo on the left foot. That’s a magnificent strike. Sharp from Klaassen, really sharp. The rest [is] just magnificent.

“[It] might just start outside of the post and curls in, absolutely beautiful finish.”

Cody Gakpo ‘a real talent’, says Dutch pundit

De Jong added: “He’s a real talent. It was a great strike, and that’s also with his weakest foot. It was a difficult angle as well.

“This is the guy in form now for the Dutch team, especially when Memphis Depay is not at full fitness yet.

“You’ve got to have the creativity from other players and they’ve got to step up to the occasion. Gakpo is doing that now, in back-to-back games.”

While the Netherlands are benefitting hugely from Gakpo’s top displays, PSV will have mixed emotions about them. They will make more money the better he does, but it means they could end up losing him as early as January.

On Friday, before Netherlands’ draw with Ecuador, a report revealed what Ten Hag’s ‘priority’ is for the January window. It is apparently to land Gakpo from PSV, whatever the cost.

And Sport Witness now provide an update on the situation, while citing ESPN Netherlands. They claim Ten Hag is ‘determined’ to see his team get to Gakpo, ahead of rival suitors Liverpool and Arsenal.

Gakpo has ‘always remained’ on Man Utd’s radar, ever since they failed to sign him in the summer. The Red Devils didn’t meet PSV’s £45million asking price at that point, though it has since risen to £51.5m.

PSV want to keep the 23-year-old for the remainder of the 2022-23 campaign. He is integral to their plans and hopes of success this term.

But Man Utd are preparing to go all out for Gakpo, which will ruin PSV’s plans. Once again, it seems Man Utd chiefs will spend big to appease Ten Hag.

Man Utd striker Plan B revealed

The report does mention a Plan B for Man Utd, just in case Gakpo goes elsewhere or surprisingly ends up staying at PSV. And it is certainly an exciting backup option.

Ten Hag will tell Man Utd officials to go after AC Milan’s Rafael Leao, should Gakpo prove to be unavailable. Leao is up there with Gakpo this season, having notched seven goals and nine assists for Milan so far. And he also found the net in Portugal’s World Cup opener, which ended in a 3-2 win against Ghana.

It would be a big disappointment if Man Utd missed out on Gakpo. But the potential signing of Leao would certainly soften the blow, given how well the Milan ace has done in recent months.

Meanwhile, Man Utd are at risk of losing one of their most important defenders after he became a target for Real Madrid.