PSV Eindhoven star Cody Gakpo has confirmed he was ‘close’ to joining Manchester United in the summer after holding talks with Erik ten Hag.
The Netherlands international shot to prominence last campaign and has flourished under former United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy, who took over as PSV’s manager back in March.
Ten Hag strengthened United’s attack by signing Antony from Ajax, but not before he made effort to convince Gakpo to join him at Old Trafford.
The 23-year-old remained with the Eredivisie club after spurning a late chance to sign for Ralph Hasenhuttl at Southampton.
‘I was close to leaving, I spoke to Erik ten Hag a few times at Manchester United,’ Gakpo told The Times.
‘In the end the deal didn’t go through, which was a shame, for me and my development, and because Manchester United is one of the biggest clubs in the world, but also for PSV, because to transfer a player to Manchester United is a good thing for the club.
‘It ended about a week before the end of the transfer window and in that week I had to decide if I would go to Leeds or Southampton. In the end I stayed, but it was a stressful period.’
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The decision to stay put has proven to be a good one with Gakpo enjoying his most prolific season to date having scored 14 goals from 20 games so far this season and now looks a certainty to be included in Louis van Gaal’s World Cup squad.
‘I always said if I stay here, it’s my childhood club. It’s not a punishment,’ Gakpo added. ‘I like being here, I want to win trophies here and do my best for the club.
‘But if I got the chance to go to the Premier League or something, of course I would have to consider that option. At that time it was hectic for me but I recovered pretty quickly.’
Gakpo, who revealed he modelled his game on Thierry Henry, will look to enhance his reputation against another of his suitors, Arsenal, in the Europa League tomorrow with PSV hoping to take control of Group A.
‘I’m a tall winger, but when you look for tall wingers there aren’t so many, so a few years ago I started watching Henry,’ Gakpo said.
‘He was more of a striker, but he was also tall and he liked to play off the side like me, so I watched clips of him and tried to learn something from him: the way he comes in from the left and shoots with his right. I don’t know if it’s working, but I tried to copy him a bit.’