Manchester United transfer target Cody Gakpo has paid tribute to former Reds striker Ruud van Nistelrooy for turning him into one of Europe’s most coveted forwards.
The PSV Eindhoven ace has worked with Van Nistelrooy, who will take over from Roger Schmidt to become the club’s first-team manager from the end of the season, since youth level.
Gakpo, who can play out wide or up front, is undoubtedly in the midst of the best season of his burgeoning career and his impressive figures have caught the attention of Premier League’s heavyweights.
Manchester United have scouted the forward several times this season according to the Mirror.
From 38 matches across all competitions this season, the 22-year-old has 17 goals and 15 assists to his name.
Only Ajax’s Dusan Tadic (16) has more assists than the four-time Netherlands international (13) in the Eredivisie this season.
Gakpo will be in England tomorrow when his PSV side travel to Leicester City for the first leg of their UEFA Conference League quarter-final tie.
Ahead of the clash against Brendan Rodgers’ Foxes, Gakpo has spoken to the Sun about his relationship with his mentor, Van Nistelrooy.
Gakpo, who has captained PSV on several occasions, said: “Van Nistelrooy was my striker trainer in the academy.
“I have learned a lot from him and I look up to him. He’s spoken to me about how to finish in certain situations and it helped me a lot.
“He told me some tricks on shooting and keeping my options open. Shoot low and hard, not beautiful and high. A goal is a goal, you know. I am grateful he did. ”
With a price tag of £ 42million mooted to lure him away from the Dutch giants, Gakpo admits he wants to be playing in the Champions League every year.
Gakpo, who has only played seven minutes of Champions League group stage football throughout his career, said: “If I can make a step to a team that plays in the Champions League every season, of course it is my dream.
“But I still have a contract and there is a new coach coming in – but maybe there comes a club I can not say no to.
“Maybe they will not come and I have to stay but for now I just want to keep working on this season.”
Manchester United may not qualify for next season’s Champions League, but we may have Gakpo’s compatriot Erik ten Hag in charge, who will have seen the Dutch international’s qualities during PSV’s battles with Ajax.
If Ten Hag sees Gakpo as part of his Manchester United revolution then Van Nistelrooy may have to allow his young charge to follow in his footsteps.