For a while now, Erik ten Hag has made it increasingly clear that he intends to mould a young and relatively inexperienced squad of players to become the next generation of trophy-winning Red Devils and this intent become conspicuously apparent with the United manager’s decision to leave a contemporary legend such as Cristiano Ronaldo on the sidelines in key fixtures.
That said, for Manchester United to return to any semblance of its historical glory, ten Hag will have to bolster his line of attack and one obvious way to do that was to bring Netherlands and PSV phenomenon, Cody Gakpo, to Old Trafford.
The Man United manager even reportedly discussed with Gakpo the possibility of succeeding the jersey number 7 from the ex-United star Cristiano Ronaldo.
Amidst the background negotiations for Gakpo, football pundits even speculated about ten Hag having a “hidden advantage” in bringing the PSV youngster to Old Trafford, given that he has been a coach and mentor to him during his time at PSV.
Even when United opted for Antony, from Ajax for a sum total of GBP 85 million, in the summer transfer window, there were reports that hinted at ten Hag’s adamance to bring Gakpo to United in January.
And yet, with Gakpo finalizing a deal with Liverpool which could be worth well over $50 million, despite advanced discussions about transferring to United with ten Hag in the summer itself that reignited before the January transfer window, a question begs to be asked. Why did Manchester United fail to materialise a formal deal with Cody Gakpo despite continued interest in the winger’s Premier League prospects?
With reports from within Manchester United, following the finalization of Gakpo’s Merseyside transfer saying that the scouting department was never really convinced about Gakpo’s “level of development”, football pundits and fans believe that the club, with the Glazers at the helm, are now only attempting to save face using manipulative PR tactics.
It’s worth mentioning that ten Hag has been in search of a clinical striker since Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure from Old Trafford and United did get close to signing Gakpo and even drew up preliminary offers for the Dutchman.
However, the Club’s failure to conjure the funds and finalize the deal with PSV is likely the primary reason that Liverpool beat them to the punch.
Now, this failure arises because of United’s peculiar situation at the club’s management level.
Just to bring a little context into the fold, Cristiano Ronaldo, in his bold interview with Piers Morgan, opined that the American owners of Manchester United, the Glazers, have treated the club more as a revenue stream rather than a professional football unit.
In fact, following the club’s acquisition by the Glazers in 2005, the club has suffered in reputation and quality and went from being a title contender to a team floundering to find a place in the top 4 of the Premier League.
The present situation is that the Glazers have already expressed their desire to disinvest from the club and find a suitable buyer to take over the club’s management and as such, they are certainly not inclined to spend money on new players in the transfer season.
Given that United expressed a continued interest in signing the Dutchman and thereby, taking ten Hag’s vision to the next step, the only explanation for Liverpool snatching the player away has to be that the Gakpo snafu only occurred because of a reluctance from the upper management to meet PSV’s demands in negotiations.
Therefore, reports and statements from Manchester United stating that Gakpo was only considered and was not a serious target for the Red Devils, in light of ten Hag’s vocal interest in the youngster, does bestow some force on the argument that the club is now only resorting to PR gimmicks to reconcile with their passionate fanbase about a transfer that would certainly have benefitted the Red Devils in the long run.