Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag has told the club he is frustrated they could not secure the signing of Cody Gakpo but remains hopeful a short-term replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo can still be found in January, sources have told ESPN.
Gakpo’s imminent transfer to Liverpool did not come as a surprise to Ten Hag, who shares an agent with the PSV Eindhoven forward, but there remains disappointment that the 23-year-old is moving to Anfield in a deal which could rise to €50 million , rather than Old Trafford.
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Sources have told ESPN that United did not lodge an official bid for Gakpo because they could not match the financial package offered by Liverpool.
Ten Hag is sympathetic to the budget constraints at United after a larger-than-expected outlay during the summer but has asked the club to assess short-term options to fill the void left by Ronaldo, who agreed a mutual termination of his contract during the break for the World Cup.
With very little money available for a transfer fee, United are looking at short-term loan deals until the end of the season.
Sources have told ESPN that Joao Felix is available to leave Atletico Madrid but the Spanish club would want a significant loan fee plus an agreement to cover his wages which could take the total package to close to €22m for six months.
United have all but ruled out renewing their interest in Bologna’s Marko Arnautovic after looking at the former Stoke and West Ham striker in the summer, but Alvaro Morata remains an option if Atletico are willing to listen to loan offers.
United beat Nottingham Forest 3-0 on their return to Premier League action on Tuesday thanks to goals from Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Fred with Ten Hag saying afterwards that efforts to sign a striker would continue after news of Liverpool’s agreement with PSV for Gakpo.
He said: “I think we are always in the market but it has to match the sporting criteria and also the financial criteria.”