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Erik ten Hag ‘instructs Manchester United to move for Rafael Leao, Cody Gakpo’

Erik ten Hag ‘instructs Manchester United to move for Rafael Leao, Cody Gakpo’

Manchester United head coach Erik ten Hag is reportedly determined to sign both AC Milan‘s Rafael Leao and PSV Eindhoven‘s Cody Gakpo following Cristiano Ronaldo‘s departure.

Ronaldo had a contract at Old Trafford until next June, but the 37-year-old was released by the club last week following his explosive comments to Piers Morgan during an interview on TalkTV.

The Portugal international’s exit has left the Red Devils short of options in the final third of the field, with Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford now the only two recognised first-team centre-forwards.

Gakpo continues to be strongly linked with Man United, having spoken to Ten Hag over a possible move to Old Trafford during the summer transfer window.

A recent report claimed that the Red Devils have reached an agreement in principle to bring the Netherlands international to the club during the January transfer window.

Netherlands forward Cody Gakpo celebrates scoring against Ecuador in their World Cup game on November 25, 2022..© Reuters

However, according to ESPN, Leao is also a target for the 20-time English champions, with the Portuguese potentially leaving Milan during next summer’s market.

The 23-year-old – also thought to be wanted by Chelsea and Manchester City – has scored seven goals and registered nine assists in 20 appearances for Milan during the 2022-23 campaign.

Leao also scored in Portugal’s World Cup opener against Ghana last week, and he only has a contract at San Siro until the summer of 2024, which has increased the speculation surrounding his future.

Chelsea are thought to have had at least one bid rejected for the forward during the summer window, with the Blues believed to be preparing to reignite their interest next year.

Leao has scored 34 goals and 30 assists in 135 appearances for Milan since his arrival from Lille, helping the club win the 2021-22 Serie A title.

AC Milan's Rafael Leao celebrates scoring their second goal on October 25, 2022© Reuters

Gakpo, meanwhile, has scored twice in two appearances for Netherlands at the 2022 World Cup, netting in their opener against Senegal before also registering against Ecuador last time out.

The 23-year-old entered the tournament off the back of a strong start to the season for PSV, finding the back of the net on nine occasions in 14 Eredivisie appearances, in addition to contributing 12 assists.

The Dutchman also netted twice and provided two assists in five Europa League appearances, and he is widely expected to leave Eindhoven either in January or next summer.

Man United had reportedly initially been looking to wait until the end of the campaign to boost their squad, but Ronaldo’s exit has saved the club around £500,000 a week in wages, which could be used to bring in a couple of high-profile players during the winter market.

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