Cody Gakpo says he will make a decision on his future after the World Cup amid interest from Manchester United and Real Madrid.
The PSV Eindhoven forward has emerged as one of the breakout stars of the tournament with three goals in four games and impressed again as the Netherlands beat the USA 3-1 on Saturday to reach the quarter-finals.
United were interested in signing Gakpo last summer but their budget did not extend to a move for the 23-year-old after spending £85.5 million on the Ajax winger Antony as part of a £227m splurge.
Real are also said to be watching Gakpo’s progress with interest as talk intensifies that the €55m (£47m) rated forward – who can play as a central striker, No. 10 or out wide – could leave PSV in the January transfer window.
Asked by reporters in the wake of the win over the US if he would decide his future during or after the tournament, Gakpo said: “After. I’m not thinking about that now. I’m just really focused on the tournament, trying to keep performing well and helping the team and hopefully when we become world champion then I can think about that [the future].”
Has it been hard to concentrate given the speculation around his future? “No, not really. I’m just trying to keep focused and the other players don’t really talk about those things which also helps me in this situation.
“We came here with a goal which is to try to become world champion. We believe in that and we’re going to fight and improve every day. We’re growing in the tournament, improving every game and this was another step higher.”
The Netherlands will play Argentina in the quarter-finals on Friday when Gakpo will again be out to impress. Erik ten Hag, the United manager, rates Gakpo highly and his desire to bring in a striker has intensified following Cristiano Ronaldo’s exit at Old Trafford. United have also been linked with Benjamin Sesko – the RB Salzburg striker who is due to join RB Leipzig next summer – among others.
Virgil van Dijk is convinced his Dutch team-mate is ready to make the jump but questioned if a move to United would be at the same level as Real. “Are Manchester United and Real Madrid the same level at this moment? No disrespect, not at all,” the Liverpool defender and Netherlands captain said.
“I think he definitely has a next step in him. I definitely feel like it could happen. Whether it happens in the winter or next year, time will tell. But he’s a great boy. (He) works hard, is very talented and there’s definitely more in him. We are very pleased he’s doing so well and long may it continue.”
Dumfries attracting interest
Another Dutch player who has impressed at this tournament, Inter Milan right back Denzel Dumfries, has also been linked with a move to the Premier League.
Dumfries, who scored one and set up two goals against the US, admitted it was a “compliment” to be linked with Chelsea but said he was focused on the World Cup and Inter Milan.
“Of course it’s a compliment. But I can tell you when you put the Nerazzurri jersey on that’s a big compliment,” he said. “The only thing I’m focusing on now is the national team. I play for a very good club in Italy. I’m very proud I can play for Inter so I’m not focusing on anything else but the national team and Inter.”
The Netherlands’ style of play and 5-3-2 set up under Louis van Gaal has come in for criticism in Holland and the Dutch were happy to give up the ball and play on the counter-attack against the US en route to scoring three fine goals. But Dumfries brushed off the criticism.
“There is a lot of criticism in Holland but we are used to it,” he said. “Normally most teams play 4-3-3, we play a different system but the goals today were everything. I gave an assist to Daley [Blind], he gave one back to me – today we showed the quality of the system. We have to continue like this and focus on what we can do better.
“In Holland we’re used to having the ball, having more ball possession so this is a different way of playing. I also understand the criticism because we can play much better with the ball and create more chances. But you also saw when we let them have the ball we had a lot of quality on the counter attack and very fast strikers, which is also one of our strengths. So we have to focus now and make the system work perfectly. It doesn’t matter to me [which system we play].”