By George Overhill

12th Dec, 2022 | 7:10pm

Cody Gakpo 'smart' for rejecting Leeds United with Manchester United or Real Madrid move on the cards

Cody Gakpo was “smart” for rejecting a Leeds United move in the summer as he has now proven his Champions League-worthy credentials, says Ben Jacobs.

The Dutch attacker starred at the World Cup with three goals in five appearances, where he admitted he had turned down the chance to go to Elland Road in the previous window, on top of his sparkling club form with PSV.

The Eredivisie side are now “resigned” to losing him with Manchester United putting a lot of effort into signing the 23-year-old ahead of Real Madrid, and the likes of Bayern Munich and PSG now paying attention as well.

Speaking to the CBS journalist said: “PSV are resigned to losing him and at the moment, based upon pre-existing conversations that started over the summer, there would be two front runners in Manchester United and Real Madrid.

“Gakpo’s already spoken about his future at the World Cup. He’s acknowledged the Man United links, he’s also mentioned Leeds United and confirmed that there’s an offer there but said he didn’t think that was quite the right move.

“I think that was smart from his point of view. No disrespect to Leeds but it’s clear from this World Cup and his league form that he’s capable of walking straight into a Champions League team.

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“Real Madrid and Manchester United have laid the most groundwork, and Manchester United have made sure they’ve been as hands-on as possible.”

Sliding doors

Unfortunately for Whites fans the chance at Gakpo is now long gone, and Jacobs is ultimately right because Gakpo is now blessed with Champions League options.

He will also earn himself a huge amount with whichever move he now makes at his showing in Qatar, but it will certainly rankle if he ends up at Old Trafford given that they aren’t in Europe’s top competition either.

Whether it was Louis van Gaal or Gakpo himself who ultimately made the decision it is clear that Leeds United came within touching distance of landing themselves a new Raphinha ahead of a crowd in the summer but didn’t quite make it.

If he had arrived at Elland Road at the time and replicated what he has managed in his home country through the first half of the season – 13 goals and 17 assists – Jesse Marsch’s side would be some way further from the relegation battle.

But it would surely have only been a temporary arrangement, since his eye-catching performances have put him in the sights of the big names across Europe.

It’s impossible to win them all, especially before the Whites are reestablished in the Premier League for a few seasons, and fans may want to focus on the success of securing Tyler Adams, who has also become a wanted man after his performances in Qatar.

The club brought him in at the perfect time, and were on the right lines with Gakpo as they appear to have been the most prepared to push the boat out, but circumstances conspired to prevent the deal including the presence of a mid-season World Cup.

In other Leeds United news, a BBC pundit has named where he expects a highly rated Whites player to move to in January.