One of the World Cup’s biggest performers, Cody Gakpo scored three goals for the Netherlands, and he might soon be joining Liverpool. Initially linked to a move to Manchester United, the PSV forward can play on the left of an attacking three or through the middle of the attack. However, Liverpool have jumped in to complete a surprising and lightning-fast transfer for the 23-year-old attacker.
Due to the injuries to Roberto Firmino, Diogo Jota, and Luis Diaz, Liverpool must feel that their attack has to be strengthened. Gakpo may also enable Liverpool to replace Firmino in the future. Darwin Nunez has already been added to their forward line, but despite frequently finding himself in advantageous positions, he has had trouble finding the back of the net.
According to The Athletic, the initial payment might be around $44.6 million, and the contract probably includes add-ons as well. Before the World Cup, Gakpo’s star was already growing, but with Liverpool four points behind the top four, savvy signings might vault them into the Champions League. If a trade is made today, Gakpo won’t be able to register until the transfer window opens on January 1.
Gakpo’s manager, Eric ten Haag, pushed the Dutch attacker he had stopped from following him as he arrived at Old Trafford, making Manchester United the most likely destination for the player. But it appears as though Liverpool have moved in ahead of their rivals, with discussions reportedly set to start between the two parties later this month.
What does Gakpo—a dynamic attacker—bring to Liverpool?
Flexible in the attack
Liverpool is known for its ability to switch up their offense. Gakpo has filled in as a second striker or across the front here, but he has played the most of his minutes on the left wing. It’s similar to what Jota does to the club when he’s fit, but lately, Jota’s availability has been a problem. Gakpo’s addition will allow Klopp to get back what he was getting from Jota in the position while also easing the Portuguese attacker back into action.
With Nunez, Diaz, Firmino, and Gakpo competing for two places alongside Salah when Jota is healthy, Liverpool will have a rotation nightmare, but that’s a good thing given how many games the squad still has to play. Having two full attacking lines will help alleviate the burden that the Reds’ top players were under earlier in the season when they needed to play so many minutes with a quadruple in action at the conclusion of the season.
Can Gakpo resist his xG indefinitely?
Gakpo’s World Cup winning streak was driven by numerous low xG shots that went in and were profiled by James Benge. Though this isn’t necessarily a bad thing because strong finishers typically surpass their xG, it makes one wonder how much of the run was a hot streak because of the short sample size as opposed to being a strong finisher.
Also Gakpo has surpassed his estimated goals for his career with 36 league goals and 38 assists for PSV in Eredivisie action. He was only predicted to score about 27 goals. It’s understandable why this might occur given PSV’s playstyle, which allows for a high volume of shots against porous defenders, and it may be a problem if Gakpo joined a team where he isn’t given the opportunity to pop up anywhere he pleases.
At Liverpool, however, Gakpo will not only join an attack that is accustomed to winning games, but he will also have superb support from fullbacks and Mohamed Salah. He can play either from the left or center. Hakim Ziyech, Memphis Depay, and Donny van de Beek all enjoyed varying degrees of success in the Premier League, but with Antony fitting in at Manchester United and Luis Sinisterra flourishing when healthy for Leeds United, this crop of attackers could buck the trend.
Liverpool, are they championship contenders?
Liverpool will be able to aim higher in their pursuit of catching up to Arsenal now that the top four are clearly in their sights. With the same amount of games played as Arsenal, the Reds sit 15 points behind their rivals, but a crucial week in April, when Liverpool plays both Manchester City and Arsenal, may decide the title contest. Arsenal’s chances of catching Liverpool are slim, but the Gunners’ chances of finishing the season with just one loss if they keep up their current pace are also slim. The Premier League’s balance could shift if a few teams lose a few games here and there, and the Reds will be prepared to act.