Could Liverpool’s Boxing Day be any more perfect?
If beating Aston Villa 3-1 (Hyperlink previous article) for a valuable three points wasn’t enough, the announcement of marquee signing Cody Gakpo was certainly enough to delight Liverpool fans across the world.
And this is how social media reacted. It was firstly PSV Eindhoven that announced the transfer.
PSV and @LFC have reached an agreement on the proposed transfer of Cody Gakpo.
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.
— PSV (@PSV) December 26, 2022
A figure of around £37 million, rising to a reported £45 million, being enough to take the Netherlands star to Anfield.
And fans were quick to mock Manchester United for their slowness in the transfer market.
Now all Liverpool fans got to do is go on YouTube and watch Cody Gakpo’s video compilations made by Manchester United fans. I’m sure they’ll enjoy the videos. Haha
— UNDERRATED NINJA (@iamjoseh_) December 26, 2022
Man United fans deleting Cody Gakpo tweets. pic.twitter.com/yhp3mCHAgt
— smtm_lfc1975 (@smtm_lfc1975) December 26, 2022
Man United Announcing that Cody Gakpo Signing Yesterday 😂😂😂 pic.twitter.com/up4gWGrfhs
— Heisenberg (@DrJuma_M) December 27, 2022
Mainstream media, even a few hours before such as talkSPORT were adamant that the youngster was moving to Old Trafford.
There were even reports that United boss Erik ten Hag was smiling so much in a press conference, when asked about Gakpo, that a transfer was imminent.
But their inability to agree a fee, their trademark hesitation, again, proved their Achilles heel as they missed out on one of their main transfer targets.
But this was to be Liverpool’s gain.
Agent van Dijk to the rescue
It may even have been the club’s colossal centre-back, Virgil van Dijk, that proved instrumental in brokering this deal.
Gakpo delighted Dutch fans at the World Cup scoring three goals in five games as he impressed on the biggest stage.
Goals against Senegal, Ecuador and Qatar in three back-to-back games, helped his country qualify for the knockout stages.
The nation’s captain was quick to shower him in praise, saying: “Hopefully Cody can go to the moon and back.
“He is a very good player and a good boy too,” he said.
“What we see in training is what you see on the pitch.
There is still so much potential and I hope he can carry on showing it for us. We are very happy with him.”
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Meanwhile, van Dijk, not for the first time, having previously done the same with Matthijs de Ligt, teased rivals United by suggesting Gakpo could do better.
“Are Manchester United and Real Madrid on the same level at this moment? No disrespect, not at all,” said van Dijk.
“He definitely has a next step in him. I feel it could happen. Whether it happens in the winter or next year, time will tell.
But he’s a great boy, works hard, is very talented and there’s definitely more in him.
We are very pleased he’s doing so well and long may it continue.”
PSV and Liverpool have reached an agreement on the transfer of Cody Gakpo, PSV have announced 🇳🇱 pic.twitter.com/fRwBSxKXlT
— ESPN UK (@ESPNUK) December 26, 2022
It is that glowing praise that may have persuaded manager Jurgen Klopp and the club to swoop for the deadly Dutchman.
It’s also a nice call-back to five years ago, on virtually the exact same day, when the club announced van Dijk in December 2017, a belated Christmas present to the Anfield faithful.
In a nice twist of fate, involving another Dutch player, it appears history has repeated itself in 2022.
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The need for Gakpo
It was almost Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain/Alisson/Luis Díaz esque the audaciousness of this late Liverpool transfer twist.
In other transfer windows, Liverpool had beaten off Chelsea, twice yes for those first two, and then Spurs in January to seal those big name signings.
And this time, it was United’s turn to feel the burn.
Cody Gakpo chose Liverpool over Man Utd and Chelsea 😊
— – (@AnfieldRd96) December 26, 2022
Liverpool, stealth-like, conducting their business in the shadows.
And considering the long-term injuries to Díaz himself, out till March after sustaining a knee injury and having subsequent surgery, and Diogo Jota, out till at least the end of February, Klopp’s frontline has been left depleted.
Throw in the inexperience of youngsters Harvey Elliot and Fabio Carvalho, easing the burden and the dependency on Mohamed Salah, and allowing Uruguayan Darwin Nunez more time to adapt to English football, an extra attacker was a no brainer.
Particularly after struggling to break down teams this season with a string of disappointing draws and defeats, the club badly needed some extra firepower, and in Gakpo, they have found just that.
In 14 league appearances this season for PSV, Gakpo has scored nine and assisted in 12.
He also backed this up with three in five in the Europa League before his departure to Anfield.
— ESPN NL (@ESPNnl) December 26, 2022
The 23-year-old, wearing the number eight shirt, also started all five games for Luis van Gaal’s Holland at the Qatar FIFA World Cup, such is his growing pedigree in the sport.
All in all, he leaves PSV with 55 goals and 50 assists in 159 games, not bad stats for the talented attacker.
Looking forward – further investment?
The big question now, is there any money left in the piggy bank for further January reinforcements?
Logic would suggest there most surely is when talking about one of the world’s top clubs, and a serial Champions League outfit.
As written previously, a midfield revamp has long been required.
Either or both of Benfica’s Enzo Fernandez, and the much admired 19-year-old Borussia Dortmund star Jude Bellingham, are the two most earmarked players needed to raise the club to the next level.
If Liverpool are to catch the revitalised surprise leaders Arsenal, or match the strength in depth of Manchester City, acquiring a midfield starlet must surely be next on the list.
It is not a question of if, but when.