Few things are more delightful than getting one over an arch-rival, and they don’t come bigger than contests between Liverpool and Manchester United, the two most successful clubs in English football history. So when the Reds managed to make Cody Gakpo their first January signing, fans were undoubtedly thrilled about gazumping the old enemy.
United had repeatedly been linked with a move for the Dutchman since last summer, having apparently maintained regular contact with the player and his representatives, almost certain to make a formal offer once the transfer window opened. But when Liverpool swooped and officially announced their transfer agreement with PSV Eindhoven, all the gossip columns and so-called in-the-know journalists were left with egg on their faces.
Liverpool had beaten Manchester United to the punch, gazumping what for many had seemed to be a definite switch to the Old Trafford club, luring the forward into a rethink that would bring about his arrival at Anfield instead. The subsequent banter between fans on social networks was a joy to behold, as flustered fans of the Red Devils looked for every excuse they could find, trying to bring rhyme and reason to their club’s failure to land another top transfer target.
Nevertheless, there were actually plenty of good reasons that United opted out, which also underlined why Gakpo’s decision to join Liverpool was the better choice. First and foremost was him being ideally suited to the current needs of team, especially since the departure of Sadio Mane last summer, with the former becoming the perfect replacement for that left-sided attacking role.
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) January 5, 2023
Truth be told, Manchester United had clearly given serious consideration towards moving for Gakpo, particularly last summer when they opted to strengthen the right flank instead. However, their need to bolster the left gradually became of lesser importance, largely due to the plethora of options already available. Marcus Rashford is back in top form, Jadon Sancho can play on both sides, while Anthony Martial can also play on the left.
From a purely footballing perspective and mindful of the importance he would enjoy, moving to Liverpool was clearly the wiser decision for Gakpo, even if Manchester United had ultimately decided to throw their hat in the ring with a firm offer. Their attention has now turned towards bringing in an authentic number nine, fitting the same kind of profile the Reds were looking for when they bought Darwin Nunez, himself previously linked with interest from Old Trafford.
But while these are all good reasons that contributed towards Liverpool grabbing Gakpo, much to the joy of supporters, they would be positively delirious if another blockbuster move goes ahead. Manchester United are certainly in the market for a dynamic and creative world-class midfielder, highlighted by frustratedly pursuing Frenkie de Jong at Barcelona last summer. That saga reportedly continues, albeit with little signs of any positive movement.
For many pundits, the only ideal alternative for United would be Jude Bellingham, who has also been regularly linked with interest from Old Trafford, although any move for the England star could also meet with frustration. Latest odds would suggest that Liverpool are the firm favourites, while there are also reports claiming the Anfield hierarchy are stepping up their plans, eager to get Bellingham in January, rather than wait until the summer window.
So, this is why everyone wants to sign Jude Bellingham. 😅 pic.twitter.com/G7vwI3HX3H
— Squawka (@Squawka) January 7, 2023
Transfer market odds do vary from one bookmaker to the next, which certainly makes getting comparisons worthwhile, alongside insights from professional punters highlighting all the options available. This is what SBO aims to provide with unbiased reviews, covering the best betting sites UK and internationally, focusing on the most competitive odds and promotions.
And in terms of competitiveness, while there is certainly no bottomless pit insofar as transfer funding is concerned, Liverpool may already have a clear advantage over United in the pursuit of Bellingham. Just recently and at the behest of manager Erik ten Hag, the Red Devils have decided to introduce a salary cap for players, limiting first-team salaries with a new ceiling of £200k-a-week maximum.
Clearly, this will benefit Liverpool should both clubs enter into a bidding war for Bellingham, although United are also reluctant about spending big in the January window, focusing more on loans and this give the Reds another important edge. But before fans get excited at the prospect of the 19-year-old heading to Anfield, the supremely talented midfielder also has plenty of other suitors.
Real Madrid are also said to be keenly interested, and that cannot be dismissed lightly if Liverpool are to secure the services of Bellingham, prompting the need to get any forthcoming deal agreed with greater urgency. Providing the Reds can actually get this one over the line, it would undoubtedly upset Man Utd fans again, given how much they want the midfielder. And another excuse to laugh at them again would be the icing on the cake.