Jesse Marsch’s team made a flying start to the new season, picking up seven points from the first nine on offer and emphatically beating Chelsea 3-0 at Elland Road, but they’ve stuttered since then.
After a 1-0 defeat against Brighton, they were held at home by an Everton side in the lower reaches of the table, and on Saturday they were thumped 5-2 away to Brentford.
Leeds tried to end their transfer window with the signing of Gakpo from PSV Eindhoven and were optimistic it could be done.
Director of football Victor Orta flew out to the Netherlands to thrash out a deal, with Leeds ‘confident’ that the player was interested. The talks ultimately collapsed, though, and 18-year-old Wilfried Gnonto arrived from FC Zurich instead.
Hay says that he was broadly pleased with the Whites’ transfer window but isn’t sure how much Gnonto can offer in the short-term future. By contrast, they would likely have been able to bank on a swift impact from Gakpo.
The journalist wrote on The Athletic’s matchday discussion forum: “I liked a lot of the window. The question in my head is whether Gnonto is ready to make the immediate impact they might need him to.
“They could have counted on that from Gakpo.”
Hay isn’t the only one who isn’t expecting all that much from Gnonto this season. Marsch has previously explained that he views the 18-year-old as a long-term prospect, rather than a player who can take the Premier League by storm straight away.
Given that Gakpo is the top scorer and leading assists provider in the Eredivisie right now, he would be better placed to hit the ground running at Elland Road.
Leeds ‘would like to go back for him’, but there are no guarantees. Hay fears that an impressive World Cup with the Netherlands, ‘alongside a strong domestic season’, could put him beyond their reach.
The 23-year-old’s price tag could duly increase to a level beyond the Whites’ budget, and the Dutchman may perhaps be intent on playing in the Champions League.
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