Jesse Marsch has revealed just how close Leeds came to signing rising World Cup star Cody Gakpo this summer.
Leeds chased Gakpo for most of the summer, with reports at the time pointing to a possible finalization of the deal with the Dutchman, who joined Marsch at Elland Road.
However, Gakpo opted to stay at PSV for at least a few months and Leeds were forced to look for other goals: signing Wilfried Gnonto from FC Zürich on deadline day.
Cody Gakpo was one of the big stars of the World Cup in Qatar and it could have been very different for Leeds and Jesse Marsch
Speaking on the Men in Blazers podcast, Marsch revealed how close they came to landing the Dutchman, who has since scored three goals at this year’s World Cup.
“It’s difficult for us in Leeds because I think Gakpo has gone out of our price range,” Marsch said.
“We were so close to securing a transfer for him in the summer. I mean he was so close and now of course it’s disappointing for us.
The Dutch striker was 99.9 per cent on his way to Leeds before deciding to stay at PSV
“Our sports director was in the Netherlands and met the family, he agreed on everything, he spoke with PSV. I mean, we were 99.9 percent [of the way there]so I felt sorry for Victor Orta and all the effort he put into it.
“I spoke to Cody at the time and I’m happy for him because he’s been so successful here at the World Cup and I think I’ll show everyone how good he is.”
The reason Gakpo stayed at PSV might have something to do with current Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal encouraging his Dutch players to stay in the country ahead of this summer’s World Cup.
“Many players have called me, that’s true,” Van Gaal said, revealing some truth behind the rumours.
“I always end conversations with the words: This is advice, you should always be close to yourself and make the decision yourself. The storm is over and I have to say I really enjoyed it.’
Ryan Gravenberch, who left Ajax for Bayern Munich, was not in Van Gaal’s squad for Qatar.
Gakpo himself revealed in October that he was about to move to Leeds or Southampton after his seemingly preferred move to Manchester United fell through.
Marsch admitted that Gakpo was now out of Leeds’ price range as they have other targets
He told The Times: “I was close to leaving, I spoke to Erik ten Hag at Manchester United a couple of times.
“In the end the deal fell through, which was a shame for me and my development and because Manchester United is one of the biggest clubs in the world, but also for PSV because transferring a player to Manchester United is a good thing. . for the club
“It ended about a week before the end of the transfer window and that week I had to decide if I was going to go to Leeds or Southampton. I ended up staying, but it was a stressful time.
The Dutchman is now the envy of countless clubs across Europe and PSV are grateful for their decision to retain him.