Phil Hay has dropped a worrying claim on reported Leeds United transfer target Cody Gakpo.
In a recent Q&A for The Athletic, the Leeds United correspondent stated his belief that, despite Victor Orta being hopeful of revisiting a move for the PSV Eindhoven forward in the January transfer window, should the 23-year-old continue to impress in the Netherlands this season, the Spaniard could well find himself priced out in the race to sign the Dutchman.
In response to a question asking for an update on the club’s pursuit of Gakpo, Hay replied:
“Leeds are talking about trying again with Gakpo in January, but they have to be realistic about the fact his value will rise if he has a good domestic season with PSV Eindhoven and shines at the World Cup with the Netherlands.
“Should that happen, his sights are likely to turn to a higher level of competition than Leeds can offer – regular Champions League football in other words – and Leeds might find that he is beyond their reach. [Brendan] Aaronson was slightly different in that Elland Road was always likely to be his best option this summer. Gakpo’s choice of clubs could be far broader, so yes, maybe the boat has sailed.”
Considering just how exciting a talent Gakpo undoubtedly is, in addition to just how close Leeds appeared to be to sealing a £34m+ deal for the forward on the final day of the summer transfer window, Hay’s claim that the 23-year-old may already be a target who will be out of the Whites’ reach in January is sure to come as gutting news for Orta and his transfer team.
Indeed, over his six Eredivisie appearances so far in 2022/23, the £31.5m-rated talent has demonstrated why Orta was so desperate sign him this summer, having already scored an astonishing seven goals, registered three assists and created seven big chances for his teammates, as well as taking an average of 4.8 shots – 2.8 of which have hit the target – making 3.8 key passes and completing 1.3 dribbles per game.
These returns have seen the forward who Casey Evans dubbed a “headliner” average a simply sensational SofaScore match rating of 8.87, not only ranking him as Ruud van Nistelrooy’s best performer in the league but also by far and away as the best player in the Dutch top flight as a whole in the current campaign.
As such, with Gakpo quite clearly being a player who is deadly in front of goal, boasts an eye for a defence-splitting pass and can operate from any position across a front three, it is no wonder why Orta remains interested in a deal to bring the 23-year-old to Elland Road this winter, nor is it difficult to see why Hay believes the flying Dutchman may already be a level above Leeds.