More than just another goalscorer? Why Liverpool were desperate to sign Cody Gakpo
Liverpool surprised the world of European football at the start of the year when they announced the signing of PSV forward Cody Gakpo. Heavily linked with a move to Manchester United for the previous 12 months, it seems as though the Anfield club were prepared to meet their Eredivisie counterpart’s value for the player and promptly paid a reported €42 million for the 23-year-old talent.
Gakpo made the move to Liverpool as the club’s ninth most expensive signing of all time and joins a growing list of expensive forward players that have rocked up at Anfield in recent seasons. Alongside the likes of Diogo Jota, Luis Díaz and Darwin Núñez, Gakpo joined a forward line that has been assembled over the course of the past three seasons for no less than €213m. So why did Liverpool sign the Netherland’s international if they’re already well stocked in attack?
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Gakpo the playmaker - the answer to Liverpool's problems?
Indeed, while Gakpo bagged an impressive 55 goals in 159 appearances for PSV over the course of the last four seasons, he also managed to pick up 50 assists in that period too. And, surprisingly, he had actually clocked more assists for the Eredivisie club in this season’s campaign than goals. And in many ways, Gakpo is as much a goal creator as he is a goal scorer.
This, undoubtedly, is exactly what Liverpool need this season. While the club can still call upon Mohamed Salah to score goals and will be hoping that Núñez can add to his 14 goals in 31 games, Klopp’s team are in desperate need of a new playmaker in the team. Last season Trent Alexander-Arnold, Salah and Andy Robertson bagged no less than 50 assists in all competitions between them, but the trio have managed just 23 this time around. And if Gakpo can start providing more routes to goal in the second half of the season, he may be the final piece of the puzzle for getting Klopp’s team back on their feet.
Gakpo the goalscorer - Salah's new partner in crime?
Of course, Gakpo wasn't bought to become another playmaker in Jürgen Klopp's side and will first and foremost be judged on how many goals he can put in the back of the net. And while his career to date hasn't exactly suggest that he has ever been a profilic goalscorer, he has hit the ground running at Anfield and already bagged an impressive return.
Since joining Liverpool, new signing Cody Gakpo has averaged 0.63 goals per 90 in the Premier League— Transfermarkt.co.uk (@TMuk_news) March 6, 2023
Which is actually an on his average in the Eredivisie for PSV pic.twitter.com/kMJGp7niXZ
For example, while Gakpo has yet to score for Liverpool in cup competitions, he already has four goals to his name in the Premier League after just eight appearances. Which works out at an impressive 0.63 goals per 90 in the English top flight. Not only is that better than his average in the Eredivisie, but it also works out at a goal every 142 minutes - which is actually better than Marcus Rashford's return for Man Utd.