Leeds owner claims Van Gaal blocked Gapko move

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After siding with his national team boss and electing to turn down a switch to Leeds in August last year, Dutch forward Gakpo had a terrific World Cup before moving to Liverpool for an initial £37 million (€42m) in January.

Gakpo was one of a number of failed transfer swoops by Leeds, and the club now hover just above the relegation zone.

The deal was on the cards as late as deadline day before the former Manchester United manager's intervention, according to Leeds owner Andrea Radrizzani.

Radrizzani said: "We were so close to signing Cody Gakpo.

"It was done on August deadline day, done with PSV too. Then it collapsed because of van Gaal.

"Van Gaal called Gakpo and told him to wait because of the World Cup."

Gakpo netted three times in five appearances at the World Cup, making him one of the stand-out players in Qatar.

Radrizzani said: "Three months later his value had tripled and he joined Liverpool."

Gakpo endured a slow start for Jurgen Klopp's side, but netted in wins over Everton and Newcastle United last month.

He was not Leeds' only failed move last year, with a series of deals falling through leading to the acceleration of Wilfried Gnonto's Elland Road career.

Radrizzani said: "We wanted [Charles] De Ketelaere — then we almost signed Bamba [Dieng] on deadline day, it was crazy.

"It collapsed and we anticipated the Gnonto deal that was already in place for 2023.

"I'm proud of Willy, top talent but also an excellent guy."

Italy international Gnonto, 19, has provided four goals in 16 appearances since arriving from FC Zurich.

Also making up for the failure to bring in Gakpo is January signing Georginio Rutter, who arrived for what could rise to a club-record fee of £35m (€43m), just £2m short of what Liverpool spent on Leeds' original target.