The rise of Newcastle United this season into a genuine top-four contender has caused some headaches for Manchester United and other teams. The soaring Magpies have changed the Premier League landscape. It’s now looking like a seven-into-four scenario race for the Champions League slots.
According to Legalbet.UK, bookmakers consider now Newcastle have just a tiny shade longer than Manchester United for a top-four finish this season in the Premier League. That is how much the gap has closed.
That ups the pressure on several fronts for the Red Devils. It places more importance on them trying to piece together a successful UEFA Europa League campaign; in trying to find the right depth in their squad for fixture congestion and on transfer policy.
Choupo-Moting Rumours can take a back seat
With Bayern Munich’s in-form striker Eric Choupo-Moting grabbing headlines, there have been rumours linking United with a chase for the 33-year-old striker. As ridiculous as the rumours sound, they have been citing him as a replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ronaldo’s form has taken a downward turn this season. There’s no hiding that. The Portuguese great could be shipped out in the January transfer window if United can find any willing suitor for him.
Ronaldo’s output pales in comparison to what Choupo-Moting has done this season in Bavaria. But that doesn’t mean that Choupo-Moting arriving at Old Trafford makes a lot of sense.
There are basically better, younger options that Manchester United could turn to, regardless of whether CR7 leaves or not.
No Transfer Market Mistakes
Manchester United can’t afford mistakes in the transfer market. Not with Newcastle poking their noses in the top four businesses in the Premier League. United boss Erik ten Hag may well turn back to his home country for a transfer gem.
In the Dutch top flight, he could find a key piece of depth that his squad may need to keep pace in the race for Champions League football next season.
In the summer, Erik ten Hag started his rebuilding project at Old Trafford. There were very good additions to the squad made, adding strength and quality with the likes of Lisandro Martinez, Christian Eriksen and Casemiro.
But there are a couple of major elephants in the Old Trafford room. Not only the decline of Cristiano Ronaldo but the unreliable health track record of Anthony Martial. The Red Devils need someone who can fill in with attacking support from the left and the right.
Cody Gapko Back On The Radar
Will Manchester United still be keen on PSV Eindhoven forward Cody Gapko? That could be where the solution lies for the Red Devils. There were transfer links all over the place when Erik ten Hag took over in the Old Trafford hot seat about him snapping up Gapko.
But Gapko was eventually overlooked as the Red Devils instead plumped for Brazil’s Antony. That has turned out to be a justifiable move with Anthony proving to be a bright spark for United and securing himself a spot on the plane to the 2022 World Cup.
Gapko Fits The Bill
Although Gapko has been heavily among the goals for PSV Eindhoven in the Eredivisie, he doesn’t fill the role of an out-and-out striker. He’s more of a deeper lying forward in a traditional number 10 role but can slot in on the left or the right wing.
It’s that versatility that could make Gapko a huge asset for the Red Devils. Especially across the course of a congested second-half of the season. Manchester United have to maintain pressure on several fronts.
They need depth and the World Cup is another major variable. The Red Devils will have to assess players after the FIFA World Cup to see if those on international duty have come through unscathed and have energy to contribute to their cause.
Will United Regret Not Making A Move?
Manchester United could well have pushed harder for the signature of Gapko during the summer. But they didn’t. They had an attacking slot to fill and Anthony got the nod on his transfer from Ajax.
But should the Red Devils have pushed the boat out? Gapko, who was last season’s Dutch Footballer of the Year has taken his game to another level this season. The 23-year-old has proven goal-scoring and assist-creation during his last five seasons of development in the Eredivisie.
Newcastle’s resurgence could push United into making a move for the player now in the January transfer window. Gapko is currently rated around the £35 million mark as he is on a steep upward trajectory at the moment.
He will cost United far more than they could have purchased him for last summer. Plus his form for PSV will naturally have made other teams sit up and take notice. The bidding for the Netherlands forward could get heated.
Close Ties May Help
One thing perhaps that will work in the favour of Manchester United should Gapko be back on their radar is some close links. Erik ten Hag would be making a play for a fellow countryman. That could help smooth the transfer road and the current PSV head coach is former United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy.
Understandably PSV may not be too keen on moving the player during the January transfer window. Not while they are involved in a tight title duel on the domestic front and the UEFA Europa League. But United may not have the luxury of biding their time further.
Article written by Sam Jackson