Ten Hag choice haunts Man Utd as primary January transfer spirals out of control

Erik ten Hag, October 2022

A Man Utd move for their ideal Cristiano Ronaldo replacement next month is spiralling out of control after a report revealed a second huge price hike that may not be the last.

Ronaldo’s mid-season exit has forced Manchester United into a re-think. They already intended to sign a new centre-forward in 2023, though Ronaldo’s departure has ensured they’ll act in January, not June.

Joao Felix is among the club’s reported targets, though a surprising mid-table Premier League side have stolen a march on the Portugal ace.

Regardless, PSV Eindhoven’s Cody Gakpo appears to be United and Ten Hag’s primary target anyway. Indeed, Gakpo previously confirmed he spoke with Ten Hag on multiple occasions over the summer.

A move to Old Trafford was overlooked by Ten Hag in favour of forging a reunion with his former Ajax forward Antony.

United eventually landed the Brazilian to the tune of £86m, though that meant Gakpo was put on the backburner for six months at least.

Gakpo could reportedly have been signed for around £35m last summer. Since that time, his incredible form has seen his valuation take off.

He’s scored three times for the Netherlands in Qatar to bring his season tally for club and country to 18 goals in 33 appearances. He’s also provided 18 assists over that time.

A former England manager recently touted a United flop Ten Hag could include in a cash-plus-player offering to sweeten the deal. The move would make sense on many levels, though would rely on PSV wanting the flop in the first place.

Instead, a straight-cash deal looks most likely, though per FootMercato, United will need a lot of it.

Gakpo price tag rises and rises

They claim Gakpo’s price has already risen to €60m (approx. £52m) when domestic football gave way to the World Cup.

However, the 23-year-old has shone on the biggest stage in Qatar and FootMercato’s Dutch sources have claimed PSV now want €75m (approx. £65m).

That is nearly double what Ten Hag could’ve signed Gakpo for just a few months ago had he not prioritised Antony. What’s more, there’s no indication PSV won’t raise the bar even further if Gakpo continues to thrive at the World Cup.

Furthermore, there’s no guarantee PSV will actually sell mid-season. As such, and if Gakpo continues to ravage opposing defences at club level, further price hikes could emerge before the summer window of 2023 opens.

While few would argue the signing of Antony has been a mistake, it has had a direct and negative effect on their Gakpo pursuit.

Clubs tend to conduct their biggest business in the summer and that’s the window where the highest fees are most often sanctioned.

If United are to land Gakpo in January, it sounds like they’ll have to reverse that trend as £65m+ deals in winter windows are extremely rare.

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