Erik ten Hag has growing issue as Cody Gakpo turns down Man Utd move

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Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag is set to miss out on bringing yet another transfer target to Old Trafford after it emerged that Liverpool have agreed a deal to sign PSV Eindhoven forward Cody Gakpo earlier this week. The Red Devils were thought to have been long-term admirers of Gakpo and were widely tipped to launch a move for his services in January but have already been beaten to his signature by their Merseyside rivals, with an agreement now in place to see him join the Reds next month.

A statement released by PSV on Monday read: “PSV and Liverpool FC have reached an agreement on the upcoming transfer of Cody Gakpo. The 23-year-old attacker will immediately leave for England where he will undergo the necessary formalities to complete the transfer. Both clubs are not making any announcements about the transfer fee.”

United will instead be forced to look elsewhere in their efforts to land a new forward in January, with Gakpo firmly out of the equation after opting to join Liverpool instead. The Dutchman is not the first player to snub a move to Old Trafford and will almost certainly not be the last after joining a long list of stars that have turned down United in recent years with his decision to sign for their bitter rivals.

With that in mind, Express Sport takes a look at five players who have previously snubbed the Red Devils to either stay at their current clubs or join another team…

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Jurrien Timber

United were keenly interested in bringing Ajax defender Jurrien Timber to Old Trafford over the summer, with the 21-year-old having impressed under the guidance of Ten Hag during the latter’s time in charge. He was heavily targeted by the Red Devils during the early stages of the window but ultimately decided to commit his future to Ajax by signing a new long-term contract in the Dutch capital.

Timber’s decision was reportedly influenced by the advice of Netherlands manager Louis van Gaal, who was said to have advised him against the move before he ended up putting pen to paper on a new deal at the Johan Cruyff Arena. United ended up switching their focus to his Ajax team-mate Lisandro Martinez, who went on to join Erik ten Hag at Old Trafford before the all-important deadline.

Gareth Bale

Gareth Bale was heavily linked with a move to United before he left Tottenham to join Real Madrid in 2013 for a fee of around £85million, setting a new world record at the time. The Red Devils pushed hard to land the Welshman but were eventually forced to admit defeat, with then-United boss David Moyes revealing that the winger’s mind had already been made up.

“We even had a helicopter at the training ground to take him and bring him back,” explained Moyes. “We thought we had a chance, but he chose Real Madrid and he made a brilliant decision because he went on to win four Champions Leagues.”

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N’Golo Kante

Jose Mourinho was keen on signing N’Golo Kante from Leicester during his time in charge of United but was forced to miss out on the Frenchman’s signature when he eventually decided to join Chelsea, where he remains to this day. He was even personally telephoned by Mourinho, although the Portuguese manager failed to convince him that a move to United would have been in his best interests.

“It was amazing to have Mourinho call me, even though I’d been warned before how he would appeal to me,” said Kante at the time. “I listened to his arguments about why I should move to United but at that time I was hesitant between staying at Leicester or leaving for Chelsea.”

Frenkie de Jong

United chased a move for Frenkie de Jong all summer long earlier this year but were once again left empty-handed, with the 25-year-old choosing to remain at Barcelona in spite of Ten Hag’s best efforts to snap him up. The Catalan giants were keen to sell De Jong in order to help them balance the books and reportedly agreed terms at club level with United early in the window.

The player had other ideas, though, and refused to entertain United’s advances as a result of his unshakeable desire to stay at the Nou Camp and fight for his place. However, Ten Hag is still believed to harbour an interest in reuniting with De Jong at Old Trafford and it remains to be seen whether the proposed move will be resurrected between now and the end of January.

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The Red Devils came agonisingly close to landing Brazilian icon Ronaldinho shortly after the turn of the millennium, although he went on to sign for Barcelona despite being in advanced talks with the powers that be at Old Trafford. Ronaldinho was even convinced that he was joining United at one point and once recalled: “It almost happened with United, it was a matter of 48 hours.

“But [Sandro] Rosell had told me way before I got the offer: ‘If I become Barca president, will you come?’ I said yes. It was only a matter of details with United when Rosell called to say he was going to win the election there, and I had promised to him that I’d play for Barca.”

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