Manchester United transfer target Cody Gakpo can follow in Robin van Persie's footsteps with PSV move - Inside Europe
Manchester United are reportedly in 'pole position' to sign highly-rated PSV Eindhoven winger Cody Gakpo. The Dutch international has been in fine form this season for the Eredivisie title-chasers and could be ready to make the switch to the Premier League. Eurosport Netherlands’ Kevin van Nunen explains exactly what Manchester Unitedor any other potential suitors would be getting from the player.
Editor's note - This article was originally published in March 2022 when Arsenal were linked to Cody Gakpo. It has now been updated on August 10 to reflect Manchester United's interest in the Dutch forward.
It's probably fair to say that the Manchester United transfer window has not been going as well as the fans or manager Erik ten Hag might have liked.
Whilst some business has been done there could have been more, plus the club are still trying to add players. A new striker is needed to replace the injured Anthony Martial and the wantaway Cristiano Ronaldo whilst their sights have turned to Adrien Rabiot in midfield as the move for Frenkie de Jong seems unlikely.
A similar readjustment has had to happen in the wide areas. Ten Hag's former player Antony at Ajax was the first choice but United have been put off by the asking price. So now they've turned to Cody Gakpo of PSV.
In this article from March Eurosport Netherlands’ Kevin van Nunen explains exactly what Manchester United, or any other potential suitors, would be getting from the player.
What type of player is Gakpo? What are his strengths?
Van Nunen: I would straight away point to his technical skills. He can do anything with the ball, has a really good first good touch and his overview and ability to find solutions on the pitch is very much on point. His through balls cannot be undersold either. He can play some beautiful passes in which he combines all of his qualities: technical skills, solution finding and key passes.
His physical condition might be a weakness. Gakpo is injured from time to time and I think this is an area where he can and needs to improve, because the Dutch Eredivisie is not as demanding as the Premier League, Champions League and so on.
Van Nunen: Well, this is an interesting one…Do PSV extract the best of Gakpo or does he do this himself? Roger Schmidt isn’t the best coach, to be honest. He does a lot of strange things and doesn’t make the team any better really. Despite this, Gakpo has thrived.
I think this does make his development even more interesting, because I don’t think he needs his manager to become a better player. I’m not saying he doesn’t need a coach at all, but Schmidt? I don’t know really…
Could Arsenal be a good fit for him?
This section was directly in relation to Arsenal but a lot of it could be relevant to Manchester United.
Van Nunen: I think it’s a good move - and a move he should make. But this is also because of PSV. The club didn’t make the Champions League and they crashed out of the Europa League as well. I think you can demand more from Gakpo on the European stage and to continue his development, he should make a next step.
There isn’t much pressure at PSV either these days, who have accepted their role behind Ajax - who are like the Bayern Munich of the Netherlands. Although PSV are still seriously involved in the title race this season, bizarrely!
Arsenal are known for nurturing talent. Of course they want a return on investment, but Arsenal do have patience. This is something not to be underestimated. Gakpo is a good player, but he still needs to grow. I don’t think he will run the team straight away after joining Arsenal, I think he needs a little time.
I don’t like to compare young talent with legends, but there could be some similarities between Robin van Persie’s move to Arsenal and Gakpo, if hs move materialises. Van Persie was a little bit younger of course and his situation at Feyenoord was completely different, but Gakpo still needs to grow a little more and Arsenal know how to do this, I hope.
In terms of tactics and way Arsenal play, I think Gakpo would be wise to join the Gunners.
Djevencio van der Kust of FC Utrecht, Cody Gakpo of PSV during the Dutch Eredivisie match between FC Utrecht v PSV at the Stadium Galgenwaard on March 13, 2022 in Utrecht Netherlands (Photo by Photo Prestige/Soccrates/Getty Images)
Image credit: Getty Images
Would he be suited to the Premier League?
Van Nunen: For sure! Of course the Premier League has a quite open style of football and this suits Gakpo. He has the technical skills, in time he will be strong enough to cope with the fitness levels of the Premier League although maybe he has to become a little stronger. But then again, which 22 year-old doesn’t? It’s not new for Arsenal to develop young players, they know how to do this.
Gakpo could link up with Martin Odegaard, although there may be one setback: against some of the more physical teams this could be a little bit light. Gakpo is a little stronger than Odegaard, I think, but they’re both lightweights. Gakpo is 6’1” and weighs around 76kg, that’s not so much…
Would Gakpo himself be open to a move?
Van Nunen: I think so. In the Netherlands and also at PSV it’s not really a question when he leaves, but for how much money. The same applies for Gakpo himself, I think. So many clubs are interested and he cannot learn that much more in the Eredivisie.
Maybe PSV will become champions at the end of the season and if he can leave with a trophy under his belt, this would be the optimal scenario. He has given PSV what he can and it wouldn’t be that bad to stay one more year. But should Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt have stayed one more year at Ajax? They could have, but it wasn’t a wrong move to go abroad. Far from it!
One important factor to keep in mind during the transfer window is the upcoming World Cup in Qatar. Gakpo doesn’t want to take the risk that he misses out on this tournament. If he moves abroad, he will make a choice also based on the World Cup. He doesn’t want to make the same mistake as Donny van de Beek for instance, who made a big transfer but played for little for Oranje afterwards.
What might Arsenal (or anyone else) be concerned about with him?
Van Nunen: Like I explained above: match fitness and physical shape. Gakpo really has to work on developing a stronger body, and not getting injured during every international break or every other week. This is just too much and if he wants to succeed in the Premier League, he really has to address this weakness.