Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag will begin the second half of the season without Cristiano Ronaldo, as the Portuguese superstar agreed to a mutual termination of his contract following the recent controversy over his interview with Piers Morgan.
The Dutchman will now be looking at filling the void left by the forward, and with the January transfer market just around the corner, he can use the World Cup break in order to highlight some potential targets.
Could Ten Hag make a move for a compatriot who is currently taking the tournament by storm?
Dean Jones believes Cody Gakpo is a potential replacement for Ronaldo, along with other names. Speaking to Football FanCast, he said: “When they are looking at the situation right now, obviously, I think of all the names mentioned we have to consider Gakpo, Jonathan David, Depay and there might even be Mousa Dembele given his contract situation.”
There are a few names there that suggest United have some ideas on who can replace the 37-year-old, however, Gakpo remains a key target.
A move for the Dutchman could set back United €50m (£43m), although this is just loose change for the Old Trafford side, especially with the form he has been in recently.
The 23-year-old has registered an incredible 30 goal contributions (13 goals and 17 assists) for PSV Eindhoven so far this season, resulting in a call-up to the Netherlands’ World Squad where he has already taken Qatar by storm.
In his opening two matches at the competition, Gakpo has an average SofaScore rating of 7.50/10, continuing his fine scoring form by chipping in with a goal in each match while making two key passes per game too.
The forward has also succeeded with 100% of his dribbles and his form will be integral as the tournament soon begins to enter the latter stages. Louis van Gaal’s men have a chance of winning their first World Cup if they keep Gakpo fit and firing.
Journalist Josh Bunting has dubbed Gakpo as a “beautiful talent” and judging by his form for club and country over the previous few months, this praise is certainly justified.
Could he fire the Netherlands to eternal glory? The next few weeks might just be the most important in his young career so far. If he can, it will only further his credentials as a Ronaldo replacement in Manchester.