The truth of Ruud van Nistelrooy quotes on Cody Gakpo’s Man United “dream”

This week, quotes circulated claiming Ruud van Nistelrooy said Cody Gakpo “refused his advice” to wait for his “dream move” to Man United.

“Gakpo’s dream move was Manchester United,” the Telegraph‘s Twitter account has quoted Van Nistelrooy.

“I advised him to wait ’til the summer. Something happened and he refused my advice and listened to Virgil van Dijk, who tempted him to join his team.”

In further quotes carried by talkSPORT, the PSV Eindhoven manager is claimed to have said: “I also wanted him to join United.

“Not just because it’s my club and I love them, but also because they are better than Liverpool and offer a lot more potential to their players.”

Picked up by a number of ‘news’ aggregators, as well the Liverpool Echo‘s sister site, Van Nistelrooy is also said to have described Liverpool as “10 times smaller than Manchester United, in every department.”

But the reality is that the 46-year-old never said anything of the sort.

WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Saturday, February 4, 2023: Liverpool's Cody Gakpo lines-up before the FA Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers FC and Liverpool FC at Molineux Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The situation was cleared up by Dutch journalist Rik Elfrink, of Eindhovens Dagblad, who confirmed the quotes were “100 percent fake.”

“Van Nistelrooy never spoke about the topic in public,” he added, later clarifying that the PSV boss had not discussed Gakpo’s decision like this in private either.

Though it may not seem like a big deal, it serves as another example of how quickly fake news can circulate in the modern media.

Publications with the reputation of the Telegraph and those linked with the city’s own newspaper ran quotes without researching the source, with the generation of clicks and engagement the sole focus.

In the case of, the now-deleted article cited Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf without linking to an actual source for Van Nistelrooy’s alleged criticism.

Netherlands' Cody Gakpo gestures. Credit: Tom Weller/dpa/Alamy Live News Credit: dpa picture alliance/Alamy Live News

A similar story played out following Netherlands manager Ronald Koeman’s comments on Gakpo’s “difficult” start to life at Anfield on the same day.

Koeman, who took over from Louis van Gaal following the World Cup, is quoted as telling Andy van der Meyde on his ‘Big Andy in de Auto’ YouTube series: “[Gakpo] has ended up in a team that is not doing well.

“If you don’t score or you’re not important and you don’t win any matches, it’s very difficult, especially for a young player.

“If that was someone aged 28, with experience, it would be different.”

Those quotes may be accurate, but headlines from BBC Sport, the Independent, the Mail and GOAL, among others, twisted Koeman’s words to suggest he felt Gakpo joined Liverpool “too early.”

In reality, Koeman’s assessment was sympathetic to the forward’s position – as, no doubt, Van Nistelrooy would be too.