Liverpool beat Aston Villa 3-1 won on Boxing Day, but despite Jurgen Klopp’s Reds winning their first Premier League match in over a month due to the World Cup in Qatar, it wasn’t the biggest story…
With fans tucking into Christmas leftovers, news broke that Liverpool were on the verge of signing PSV star Cody Gakpo.
Within the next hour, it was all but official, with PSV confirming that the 23-year-old had flown to Merseyside to do his medical and sign a contract. He should be ready to join up with his new team-mates for January 1st, just like fellow Dutchman Virgil van Dijk was back in 2018.
There’s so many rumours and so much speculation regarding who Liverpool want to sign, but often, deals become public and are announced within that very day, proving the ITK Twitter brigade know significantly less than they make out! Last January, Luis Diaz was linked in the morning and confirmed by the club by the evening, and his signing had a monumental impact on our brilliant run which almost culminated in a quadruple. Gakpo won’t be fighting for all four this term, but his arrival will boost our top four chances and hopefully our Champions League efforts, too.
Even Liverpool’s beat journalists, like James Pearce, Neil Jones, etc, only found out about the Gakpo deal when everyone else did. David Ornstein is the man right now when it comes to legitimate transfer news – or football news of any kind – in fact. Most of the information you get from the reporters supposedly close to the club is just a thinly-veiled summary or opinion piece. Liverpool are very careful not to break any transfer stories to English journalists until a deal is already done. So, in many ways, the best people to pay attention to in regards to transfer news are journalists from other countries, who have contacts at the selling clubs and with the potential signing, as Liverpool reveal less than nothing.
Cody Gakpo’s position
Liverpool already have Diaz, Diogo Jota, Darwin Nunez and Fabio Carvalho; all comfortable on the left of the 4-3-3 – so we must rate Gakpo enormously to bring him into a congested area.
That being said, Gakpo played on the left for PSV, but on the right or at no.10 for Netherlands, for whom he scored three goals and starred in Qatar. His versatility will be very beneficial long-term, but right now, he’ll likely slot in on his favoured left-wing spot. Diaz is out until late March and Jota won’t play in January, meaning Gakpo has a chance to effectively make the role his own before his new team-mates return from injury.
We did experiment with a 4-4-2 earlier on in the campaign, but Klopp quickly reverted to his tried and trusted 4-3-3 shape, so with each PL match almost a must-win now, it’d be safe to assume Gakpo’s initial role will be a familiar one.
Cody Gakpo’s attributes
First thing first, Gakpo is a physical specimen. He’s 6ft.4′ and rapid. With the Darwin Nunez summer signing, it’s clear Liverpool are targeting attackers with height, incredible speed and power – and now they have another.
This term for PSV, he’s got 16 goals and 17 assists already. That’s 33 G/A involvements. Crazy numbers. Many of his goals come from cutting in off the left flank and blasting the ball with his right-foot. He shoots with immense power. Even his side-footers are thunderbolts. While Nunez’s finishing lacks composure when he has too much time right now, Gakpo shoots calmly and precisely. Seeing those two and Mo Salah up top would be mighty interesting for us and terrifying for opposition defenders.
Stylistically, and this is admittedly quite a dangerous comparison, Gakpo plays a little like Cristiano Ronaldo before he lost his legs. He’s very upright, strong and direct, with quick feet and an ability to shoot accurately and powerfully from anywhere around the 18-yard line. His number of assists though show he’s perhaps not as motivated to score himself as the former Manchester United star.
Gakpo isn’t just right-footed, either. At the World Cup, he scored with his right, left and head. Whereas Diaz for example will always cut in and shoot on his right, Gakpo has more options.
The highlight package below, showing his goals and assists, is mouthwatering.
🎬 𝙒𝘼𝙏𝘾𝙃: Cody Gakpo
Nationality – 🇳🇱
Age – 23
Position – LW
Goals – 16
Assists – 17
Club – Liverpool
— LFC Transfer Room (@LFCTransferRoom) December 27, 2022
Well, we need a midfielder still, right?
Gakpo means we now have six top forwards for three positions: excellent squad depth.
But with Naby Keita, James Milner and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain likely leaving in the summer on the expiration of their contracts, a midfielder was probably more of a priority than an attacker in the first place.
The word online is that Liverpool might move for Enzo Fernandez next.
Portuguese reporter Pedro Almeida is claiming Liverpool and Manchester United are going head to head for the Argentine, who shone in Qatar on the biggest stage.
— Pedro Almeida (@pedrogva6) December 27, 2022
Liverpool will go big for Jude Bellingham in the summer, but can we really afford to pay €120m for a midfielder in January, then even more than that for the Englishman in six months’ time, all while FSG are trying to sell the club…?
It feels a little unlikely, but the team hasn’t been invested in properly for some time, so perhaps they’re going all out, like they did in the summer of 2018 when we signed Alisson and Fabinho after losing the Champions League Final.
Fernandez is the real deal. He’d be a much more exciting acquisition than Sofyan Amrabat, anyway.
And if we are going to wait until summer 2023 for Bellingham, we need a new midfielder in January.
Let’s see what happens, but the early Gakpo deal indicates serious intent from Liverpool and an understanding that the current squad needs revitalising.
It’s going to be a fun winter!