Those at the top of the Manchester United hierarchy must be sitting around this morning wondering how history has repeated itself and cost them another marquee signing.
Reports emerged late last night that after months of relentless speculation touting Cody Gakpo with a move away from PSV Eindhoven that the forward’s exit had finally been sealed and his new destination had been confirmed – Liverpool. United fans reading those same reports must have barely been able to believe their luck.
For so long it seemed as if Gakpo was destined to ply his trade at Old Trafford, with the Netherlands international rumoured to be keen on donning the red of United and playing under a fellow Dutchman in Erik ten Hag.
Instead, it is the red of Liverpool he’ll be lining up in after Jurgen Klopp’s side forked out a rumoured £45million to secure Gakpo’s signature.
A statement from PSV 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 involved in the deal are yet to officially confirm the figure paid, but PSV general manager Marcel Brands did add ‘this is a record transfer for PSV,’. The management of the Dutch giants completed the transfer on Boxing Day and gave Gakpo permission to travel to England.
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This entire saga is likely to bring back horrible memories for the United faithful who were around when it seemed like Sadio Mane to the Red Devils was a done deal.
Interest and an attempted move for Mane came while Louis van Gaal was in the Old Trafford hot-seat, with the Dutchman recently confirming United were desperate to land the Senegal international.
“Sadio Mane is a true team player and this is the reason why I really wanted to sign him (at Manchester United),” the former Netherlands boss told Dutch publication NOS. “These are difficult players to play against.”
It is a tale supported by Mane himself, who recalled the situation in an interview with the Daily Telegraph in May of this year and confirmed he had a contract agreed with United only for Liverpool to swoop.
“I have to say, I was really close to going to Manchester United. I had the contract there. I had it all agreed. It was all ready, but instead, I thought, ‘No, I want to go to Liverpool.’
“I was convinced to go with (Jurgen) Klopp’s project. I still remember the first time I got the call from Klopp. He said, ‘We have a big project at Liverpool and I want you to be part of it.’
“Then he asked what position I wanted because he could see at Southampton I played on the right side and I used to play on the left. I said I prefer left, and then he said, ‘But (Philippe) Coutinho is on the left!’
“So I said, never mind, I will play on the right. I could see myself in all the positions.”
Mane went on to establish himself as a certified Liverpool legend during his six years at Anfield after making the fateful decision to live in the red half of Merseyside rather than the red half of Manchester.
If Gakpo manages to enjoy even half of the things Mane achieved in a Liverpool shirt, he’ll have been a successful signing – one that United may live to regret missing out on as they are beaten to the punch by their rivals yet again.