Gakpo stars for Netherlands at World Cup as transfer suitors circle




 

A move to the Premier League looks to be inevitable before long for Netherlands star Cody Gakpo but his goalscoring form so far at the World Cup may mean PSV Eindhoven will raise their asking price in the January transfer window.

Gakpo has scored in each of the Netherlands' matches so far in Qatar, following his crucial late headed opener in their opening 2-0 win over Senegal with a superb left-footed strike in Friday's 1-1 draw against Ecuador.

It is therefore thanks in large part to the 23-year-old that Louis van Gaal's side are now on the verge of a place in the last 16, with only a point required in their final group outing against already-eliminated Qatar to secure qualification.

Yet it was a source of real frustration for the three-time beaten finalists that Gakpo's sixth-minute strike was their only attempt on target against Ecuador.

In a disappointing performance Gakpo was once again a talking point.

"Before the tournament there was a lot of positive talk about him already and now he has shown that he is a top young player," said his teammate Nathan Ake, the Manchester City defender.

"He is a very good guy as well. He works very hard, and you can see the talent he has."

Observers of the Dutch Eredivisie will not be surprised to see Gakpo playing a starring role for the Oranje, who have been crying out for a top-class striker especially with Memphis Depay struggling for fitness.

After all, he is currently the top scorer in the domestic league and has 13 goals in 24 games playing off the left wing for Ruud van Nistelrooy's side.

That is after he scored 21 times altogether for his hometown side last season, and his recent form at international level has been equally striking, with four goals now in his last five appearances.

- Bound for Old Trafford? -

"He is young and still evolving but he is a player with a lot of talent," said Van Gaal this week of the gangly forward, who played just off the strikers against Senegal but partnered Steven Bergwijn at kick-off against Ecuador, with Depay only fit enough to appear as a substitute in both matches.

Reportedly also eligible to represent Ghana, Gakpo made his full debut for the Netherlands last year against North Macedonia in the delayed Euro 2020.

He was the subject of interest from the Premier League during the last summer transfer window, with Leeds United owner Andrea Radrizzani revealing his club tried to sign Gakpo on deadline day in September.

Southampton also reportedly had a bid of £21 million ($25.4m) rejected but Manchester United, the club Van Gaal once coached, have now emerged as leading contenders to sign him in January.

Their current manager Erik ten Hag is also familiar with the talents of Gakpo having come up against him when he was in charge at Ajax.

Not that the Old Trafford club are short of options in attack, even following Cristiano Ronaldo's departure, and Gakpo's goals so far in Qatar may encourage PSV to ask for a higher fee for a player who is under contract at the Philips Stadion until 2026.

"He is a really good player, very young, really talented and has scored two very important goals," said his teammate, the Ajax defender Jurrien Timber.

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