Liverpool is closing in on signing Cody Gakpo from PSV Eindhoven. Given his profile, where does the Dutch forward fit in Liverpool’s setup?
Cody is an intriguing talent in part because, at 6-foot-2, he is significantly taller than the average winger. He has a decent pace and can absorb contact from defenders and continue to run forward. Attacking players of that style and physique are more likely to occupy the opposing backline, try to maneuver on the blindside of defenders, and make their money as a penalty box threat. He can also make inside runs from the diagonal. Additionally, he can make runs in behind in the wide areas too.
Gakpo primarily plays as a left winger, but he can also play as a right winger or center forward. He prefers to cut inside on his preferred foot, where he delivers inch-perfect crosses to strikers or cuts in from the left to attempt a shot, and he also prefers to run at defenders and use his dribbling skills to skip past opposing defenders in 1v1 situations.
He is double-footed and has an immaculate technique for crossing. Additionally, he is good at creating chances from set pieces. He was sixth in the Eredivisie in chances created from set play last season, with 1.37 per 90 minutes, and that has risen to a ridiculous 3.25 this season, which leads the league (Via Opta).
He is also very decent off the ball. His game is rounded off by his great first touch and his awareness of his teammates.
Where does Cody Gakpo fit in Liverpool?
Gakpo is touted to be a replacement for the injured Luis Diaz and Diogo Jota. The Dutch winger fits into the profile of a Jurgen Klopp player. He is young, versatile, and technically sound. He played in three different roles in three games in the World Cup which is evidence of his versatility.
His skill set has synergy with what Liverpool has been trying to do this season which is being vertical in the attack. Liverpool is also evolving their attack to have a more clinical number 9. This plays into the strengths of Cody. As he is good at pinging crosses and running at defenders.
Additionally, he is excellent at taking the ball higher us the field and creating chances for his teammates. In addition, he has thrived at fast breaks and transitions in his time at PSV Eindhoven. Cody is a focal point for PSV, who generate a lot of chances and have tons of possession. Liverpool operates similarly.
The most obvious weakness in Cody’s game is his ability to win 1v1 duels. Despite his pace, he doesn’t have the acceleration necessary to beat more athletic defenders in the Premier League. Additionally, he also doesn’t have elite dribbling to outwit defenders.
Unfortunately, he doesn’t have the finishing to consistently finish chances. He is more of an ‘attrition finisher’. Then there is the issue of his worrying ankle injuries which led to long-term absences.
Gakpo combines a cool demeanor in the final third with the vision for a key pass or switch. Gakpo’s height of over 6ft allows him to cover long distances with larger strides on the ball, and his slender body frames make him a difficult man to mark. He is expected to leave during the summer transfer window. He is prepared to take the next step in his career. However, he still has a lot of room for improvement.