Whether Man Utd will return for summer target Cody Gakpo in January has been revealed, while a bleak picture has been painted over their longer-term transfer plans.
The Red Devils pushed to sign both Gakpo and Antony late in the summer window. Erik ten Hag wanted new weapons at his disposal in the front three and turned to the league he knew best in the Netherlands.
According to the Athletic’s Laurie Whitwell, Manchester United did forge an agreement on personal terms with PSV Eindhoven’s Gakpo.
However, writing in a Q&A, the journalist explained why a move did not come to pass.
He stated two reasons were behind the aborted move, with the first the rising cost of signing Antony.
The ex-Ajax flyer was Ten Hag’s primary target and a transfer that was mooted to cost £50m earlier in the window wound up hitting £86m.
Secondly, Ten Hag reportedly personally made the call to retain Anthony Elanga. The young forward was the subject of a loan approach from Leicester, but Ten Hag stood firm, thus reducing the need to sign Gakpo as well as Antony.
“The approach for Gakpo was real,” wrote Whitwell. “United agreed personal terms with his representatives.
“But they decided against placing a bid with PSV Eindhoven because the Antony price kept rising, eating into available funds, and Ten Hag made the call that Anthony Elanga would stay, reducing the need for another winger.
“United fielded several enquiries for Elanga, including a loan offer from Leicester.”
Given United clearly fancied Gakpo after agreeing personal terms, the obvious question is will they reignite the deal in January?
Triple deal telegraphs future Man Utd windows
Given Elanga has stayed, logic would dictate the answer to that question is no. Furthermore, Whitwell claimed United’s big summer spend will likely see their ambition curtailed in the windows to come – including January.
The cost of signing Antony, Casemiro and Lisandro Martinez totalled around £212m including projected add-ons.
That huge triple deal was with a view to kickstarting the Ten Hag era off in style, though Whitwell stated it’ll restrict the Dutchman’s budget going forward.
“The record outlay this summer has led to informed people speculating that the budget for next summer will be significantly lower,” added Whitwell.
“At the very least they think that January will see a reduced spend, if any signings at all.
“There is a theory United have bet big on Ten Hag now in a bid to generate a positive debut season, with thoughts on the future parked for now.
“United do not have the kind of cash reserves they had a few seasons ago. The money will have to come from somewhere, possibly in savings to come.”
Do Man Utd need Cody Gakpo?
At 23, Gakpo is one of the brightest talents Dutch football has produced in recent years.
He’s begun the current campaign in ridiculous form, bagging nine goals and six assists in just 12 appearances.
However, given the options United already have at their disposal, it’s difficult to see where he’d fit in.
Ten Hag has persisted with the 4-2-3-1 formation. In it, Jadon Sancho and Antony flank Bruno Fernandes as the No 10.
Marcus Rashford is currently playing up top. However, Anthony Martial will have a say on that matter once fully fit after impressing in pre-season.
If Martial does get the nod, or if Ronaldo comes back into the fore, Rashford will revert to competing with Sancho on the left wing – which is Gakpo’s primary position.
Reports earlier in the summer suggested he could be signed for £35m. However, more recent claims have stressed his value is closer to the £50m mark. If he excels at the Qatar World Cup, the figures will only increase further.
As such, all the signs point towards United steering clear of Cody Gakpo in the future.
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