Gakpo to decide on future after World Cup as Van Dijk backs step up but questions options

Cody Gakpo said he will decide on his future after the 2022 World Cup, while his Netherlands team-mate Virgil van Dijk believes the striker is ready to take the next step in his career, but questioned whether Manchester United and Real Madrid are “on the same level”.

Gakpo has emerged as one of the tournament’s breakout stars and has scored three goals in four games for the Netherlands, who beat the United States on Saturday to reach the quarter-finals.

His performances for his national team – as well as his impressive domestic form for PSV – have led to speculation that he could move clubs in January.

He was close to signing for Manchester United in the summer and has also been linked with Real Madrid.

Speaking after the win over the USMNT in Qatar, Gakpo said his future would be sorted “after” the tournament.

“I have to be honest, I don’t think about it now,” he said Athletic.

“I’m focused on the tournament and I want to keep doing well, keep helping the team. Hopefully when we become world champions we can think about other things.

“I try to stay focused and the other players don’t really talk about things like that.”

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Gakpo has already established himself as a vital player for his national team and Van Dijk believes the 23-year-old is ready to take the next step in his career.

Asked if he thought Gakpo, who was courted by Manchester United and Real Madrid, was ready for a high-profile challenge, Van Dijk said: “Are Manchester United and Real Madrid at the same level at the moment? No disrespect at all.

“I think he definitely has that next step in him. I definitely feel like it could happen.

“Whether that will happen this winter or next year, time will tell.” But he’s a great guy. (He) works hard, he’s very talented and there’s definitely something more to him. We are very pleased that he is doing so well and long may he continue to do so.”

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Tyrell Malacia, who signed for Manchester United from Feyenoord in the summer, added: “He’s good enough for the top, there’s no doubt.” And Vincent Janssen, who plays in the Premier League for Tottenham Hotspur, said: “He’s got so much quality and he there is a really good selection. I don’t know when, but I think he can play anywhere.

The Netherlands will play the winners of Argentina’s match with Australia next Friday for a place in the World Cup semi-finals.

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Holland looked flat but Cody Gakpo was special

(Photo: Getty Images)


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