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 strikers.
The PSV Eindhoven ace has worked with Van Nistelrooy, who will succeed Roger Schmidt to become the club’s first-team manager from the end of the season, from youth level.
Gakpo, who can play wide or up front, is undoubtedly in the midst of the best season of his fledgling career and his impressive numbers have caught the attention of Premier League heavyweights.
Manchester United have scouted the striker several times this season according to the Mirror.
In 38 appearances in all competitions this term, 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 Dutch 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 the UEFA Conference League quarter-finals.
Ahead of Brendan Rodgers’ Foxes clash, Gakpo spoke to The Sun about his relationship with his mentor, Van Nistelrooy.
Gakpo, who captained PSV several times, said: “Van Nistelrooy was my forward coach in the academy.
“I learned a lot from him and I admire him. He talked to me about how to finish in certain situations and that helped me a lot.
“He told me some tricks to shoot and keep my options open. Shoot low and hard, not nice and high. A goal is a goal, you know. I’m grateful to him for doing that.
With a £42million price tag on offer to steer him away from the Dutch giants, Gakpo admits he wants to play in the Champions League every year.
Gakpo, who has played just seven minutes of Champions League group stage football throughout his career, said: “If I can take a step towards a team that plays in the Champions League every season, of course, this is my dream.
“But I still have a contract and there’s a new manager coming – but maybe there’s a club I can’t say no to.
“Maybe they won’t come and I have to stay, but for now I just want to keep working this season.”
Manchester United may not qualify for the Champions League next season but we could have Gakpo’s compatriot Erik ten Hag in charge, who will have seen the Dutch international’s qualities in PSV’s battles with Ajax.
If Ten Hag sees Gakpo as part of his revolution at Manchester United, Van Nistelrooy may have to allow his young charge to follow in his footsteps.