Cody Gakpo was one of the stars of the World Cup scoring three goals for the Netherlands and he could be closing in on a move to Liverpool. The PSV forward can play on the left of an attacking three or through the middle of the attack and was initially linked to a move to Manchester United but, Liverpool have swooped into complete a shocking, and lighting quick transfer for the 23-year-old attacker
PSV and @LFC have reached an agreement on the proposed transfer of Cody Gakpo.— PSV (@PSV) December 26, 2022
The 23-year-old attacker will leave for England imminently where he will be subjected to the necessary formalities ahead of the completion of the transfer.
With injuries to Luis Diaz, Diogo Jota, and Roberto Firmino, Liverpool must feel that their attack needs to be bolstered while Gakpo could also allow them to move into a future without Firmino. Darwin Nunez has already been added to their forward line but he has struggled to find a finishing touch despite getting into good positions.
The Athletic adds that the initial fee could be around $44.6 million with there likely being add-ons in the deal as well. Gakpo's name was already rising before the World Cup but with Liverpool four points off of a top four spot, shrewd additions could get them into a Champions League place. Gakpo won't be able to be registered until the transfer window opens on January 1 if a deal goes through now.
Manchester United had long been thought to be the most likely destination for Gakpo with manager Eric ten Haag pushing for the Dutch attacker he'd managed against to move to follow him as he arrived at Old Trafford. But, with talks slated to begin between the two sides later this month according to CBS Sports soccer insider Fabrizio Romano, it looks like Liverpool have swooped in ahead of their rivals.
A versatile attacker, what does Gakpo bring to Liverpool?
Versatility in the attack
A Liverpool hallmark is being able to interchange in the attack. Gakpo has deputized across the front here or as a second striker with the majority of his minutes coming as a left winger. It's a lot like what Jota brings to the team when healthy but lately, availability has been an issue for Jota. Bringing in Gakpo will restore what Klopp was getting from Jota in the role while also being able to ease the Portuguese forward back into action.
When Jota is healthy, Liverpool will have a rotation nightmare with Nunez, Diaz, Firmino, and Gakpo for two roles alongside Salah but that's a good thing considering how many games the team has to play. Earlier in the season, it was clear that some of the injury issues that the Reds faced were due to their top players needing to log so many minutes with a quadruple in play at the end of the season so having two full attacking lines will help ease that strain.
Can Gakpo continue to defy his xG?
During the World Cup, Gakpo's hot streak was fueled by a lot of low xG shots going in which James Benge profiled. While this isn't a bad thing because good finishers generally outperform their xG, it does wonder how much of the run was a hot streak due to small sample size versus being a great finisher.
Also With 36 league goals and 38 assists for PSV in Eredivisie play Gakpo has been someone who has outperformed their xG for their career as he would've been expected to net around 27 goals. With PSV's playstyle that allows for a high volume of shots against weaker defenses, it's clear to see why this would happen and there may be a cause for concern for if Gakpo went to a team where he isn't allowed the freedom to pop up where he'd like.
But at Liverpool, playing either from the left or center, Gakpo will not only join an attack that is used to dominating matches, but he'll also get excellent service from fullbacks and Mohamed Salah. Recent imports from the Eredivisie have had mixed success in the Premier League, with Hakim Ziyech, Memphis Depay, and Donny van de Beek struggling but with Antony fitting in at Manchester United and Luis Sinisterra shining when healthy for Leeds United, this crop of attackers could break the trend.
Are Liverpool title contenders?
With top four firmly in their sights, Liverpool will be able to set their sights higher in trying to catch Arsenal. The Reds are a steep 15 points behind the Gunners with the same number of games played but a critical week in April that sees Liverpool face Manchester City and Arsenal could define the title race. It's unlikely that Liverpool could catch Arsenal but it's also unlikely that Arsenal can continue the season on their current pace with only one defeat. Dropping a few games here and there could see the balance in the Premier League shift and the Reds will be ready to strike.