When Cody Gakpo first arrived in Merseyside at the beginning of the January transfer window, there was a lot of excitement surrounding the acquisition of the 23-year-old Dutchman — once the initial feeling of sudden shock of the move from PSV Eindhoven to Liverpool wore off that is, as nobody really saw a move to Anfield coming prior to the surprising announcement.
Indeed, Gakpo was heavily linked with a move to the Premier League following his impressive exploits for the Netherlands at the World Cup — where he joined a star-studded shortlist of Dutch players to score in three successive games with goals in all three of his nation’s group games against hosts Qatar, Ecuador and Senegal.
However, Jurgen Klopp’s men were not one of the top-flight English sides that this website had tipped as a potential landing spot for Gakpo. The likes of Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea were more favoured, as a move to Liverpool didn’t really appear to make sense due to the Reds’ wealth of attacking options — including Mohamed Salah, Darwin Nunez, Diogo Jota, Roberto Firmino, Luis Diaz and Fabio Carvalho.
Nonetheless, the Liverpool fans would have been happy to see their club beat their rivals to his signature, although perhaps still a touch wary that signing a player on their performances at a World Cup does come with a bit of risk — as proven by multiple players in the past.
And, Gakpo’s start to life in a red jersey certainly wouldn’t have filled the Liverpool supporters with much hope — especially after already witnessing Nunez’s bedding in period in Merseyside prior to the unprecedented World Cup hiatus, in which the Uruguayan striker managed just five goals in 12 Premier League outings.
The 23-year-old endured a very tough start to life in the Premier League, failing to score or even assist his first six games for Liverpool — in which time the Reds lost 3-0 to Brighton and Hove Albion and Wolverhampton Wanderers in the league and were also knocked out of the FA Cup by the Seagulls after losing 2-1 at the AMEX Stadium.
Gakpo did show a glimmer of what he is capable of in back-to-back games in the middle of February though, scoring in must-win encounters against Everton at Anfield and top four hopefuls Newcastle United at St. James’ Park. There was a stark increase in performance in those games, particularly against the Toffees as he also completed two key passes and drew four fouls from the opposition.
After going missing again in the 5-2 defeat to Real Madrid and 0-0 draw against Crystal Palace, Liverpool fans will be hoping that those back-to-back goals and better performances were not a flash in the pan from Gakpo and that he is starting to find his feet in England.
Of course, it is still very early days for the 23-year-old and the step up in class from the Dutch Eredivisie to the Premier League is massive. To add to that, he has joined a group of players who have been out of form all season and that will have only made his bedding in period even tougher.
He has shown signs of improvement, but it looks like there is still a way to go until we see the true Gakpo in a red shirt of Liverpool.