PSV Eindhoven attacker Cody Gakpo has revealed that he was expecting to join Manchester United this summer, only for the Red Devils to cool their interest and recruit Antony from Ajax instead.
Erik ten Hag was keen to reunite with Antony at Old Trafford, and after a series of drawn-out negotiations over a transfer fee, an £85m deal was eventually completed on deadline day.
Gakpo, meanwhile, was another of Erik ten Hag’s targets, with one report claiming that they had agreed personal terms with the 23-year-old.
The Netherlands international has since criticised United’s handling of their interest in his services and admitted that it was “not nice” for him or PSV to be “rushed” into making a last-minute decision on his future.
Speaking to PSV TV, via soccernews.nl, Gakpo said: “Manchester United had reported at the beginning of the transfer window. We were waiting for that a bit.
“The signals became more and more positive and at a certain point I thought it might fall in that direction.
“That option faded a bit and completely last week. We worked the whole window towards it. Until last week I thought I would go to Manchester United.”
Gakpo also reveals that he was advised by Netherlands boss and former Man United head coach Louis Van Gaal to remain at PSV ahead of the World Cup later this year.
“I spoke to the national coach. I called him and asked for advice,” Gakpo added. “The advice was clear: that I had to follow my gut feeling, but that a transfer before the World Cup is not really ideal for the player, because then you have to get used to something. I agreed with him.
“It was all last minute for me, because until last week I thought I was going to Manchester [United].
“Then it was ‘choose another club’ and decide whether I wanted to go there. That is not nice for PSV and also not for me, because it felt rushed.”
Man United were not the only club interested in signing Gakpo, as the likes of Southampton and Leeds United also attempted to recruit the forward before the 11pm deadline on Thursday.
The Saints allegedly saw a bid in the region of £21m rejected by PSV for Gakpo, and they remained in negotiations with the Dutch club up until the deadline, before ultimately failing to agree a fee.
Meanwhile, Leeds director of football Victor Orta travelled to the Netherlands to hold talks with PSV chiefs over a deal to sign Gakpo, but the forward is understood to have turned down a late move to Elland Road.
Gakpo is now relieved that the transfer window is closed and believes that he has made the “right choice” in remaining with PSV.
“I’m glad it’s over. For me it was the first window where it was stay or go,” the attacker added.
“In the last week it was looking at what was the right thing to do. I feel at home here, in my own city. Everyone knows how I feel here. But of course there are other things at play and I think you should have all the options. I did that too.
“In the end, PSV came up with a good offer that seemed to be the right choice.”
Gakpo, who still has four years remaining on his contract at the Philips Stadion, excelled in front of goal for PSV last season, recording 21 goals and 15 assists in 46 appearances across all competitions.
The seven-cap Netherlands international has since made a strong start to the new campaign, contributing with seven goals and six assists in nine games, including six strikes in just four Eredivisie appearances.