Liverpool have secured the signing of Netherlands forward Cody Gakpo from PSV Eindhoven.
The Reds will pay between £35m and £45m for the 23-year-old, who scored three goals in five appearances at the World Cup in Qatar.
Gakpo, who underwent his medical on Merseyside on Wednesday afternoon, is understood to have agreed a deal until 2028, with his transfer subject to a work a permit.
Gakpo on Virgil van Dijk’s role in his move: “We spoke a lot over the phone [in] the last days.
“What he told me was that this is the right move for me to make and for me to develop and to become a better player, that the club is a really big and massive club but also like a real family — I think that’s also very important for me because I’m a family guy. He said only good things.
“I’m also happy that he’s here, so he can help me with some stuff. I’m really grateful to be here.”
He will officially become a Liverpool player on New Year’s Day when the transfer window opens and could be in line to make his debut against Brentford on January 2.
Liverpool had not planned to sign a forward in January, but injuries to Diogo Jota and Luis Diaz coupled with interest from rivals prompted the club to accelerate their interest.
Manchester United were interested in Gakpo in the summer, when they instead signed Antony from Ajax, but reports suggested they were considering a move for the Netherlands international in the upcoming January transfer window.
Jurgen Klopp, who has long been an admirer of the forward, views Gakpo as a multi-functional attacking player who is more than capable of filling any of the roles across the front three.
Gakpo has had limited training since returning from Qatar and the priority will be to expose him to the first team environment and involve him in as much training as possible before being considered for competitive action.
This is in keeping with Liverpool’s own processes in dealing with the reconditioning of World Cup returnees.
Jurgen Klopp told Liverpoolfc.com: “There is a lot to like about Cody. He is still only 23 years old but he already has a lot of experience.
“He was the captain of PSV, he was the Player of the Year in Holland last season and, as a lot of people have just seen, he also had a great World Cup with his national team.
“So, it is clear that he is already a really, really good player but his age also means he also has the potential to become even better.
“Offensively, he is very versatile and on top of this we know he is a smart footballer and also a smart person, so we are really excited to be able to work with him.”
Liverpool’s owners, Fenway Sports Group, sanctioned the transfer and were happy to approve the move as a means of enhancing an already strong area of the playing squad.
The transfer was led and executed by sporting director Julian Ward, who finalised the deal after three days of talks with PSV on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
During the World Cup, Netherlands boss Louis van Gaal said “Cody Gakpo has everything it takes to become a star” and the forward certainly looks like he is on the fast track to the top of the game after backing up his brilliant Eredivisie form in Qatar.
A goal in each group stage game – one with his head, one with his left foot and one with his right foot – was testament to his rapidly improving play in the final third, appetite for the big stage and versatility. His standout performances for Van Gaal came as a centre forward or No 10 that drifted to the right. At PSV he has shone as a left winger, cutting inside.
But those traits haven’t come about by chance – Gakpo is meticulous about his development, even hiring a personal tactics coach to analyse his game. His steadily rising goals- and assists-per-90 minutes stats for his club show that extra homework is paying off.
That mentality will have impressed his suitors as much as his league-topping tally of goals and assists. At 23, Gakpo is already at a high level – but has the determination to get even better. That makes him an attractive investment.
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Pace and drive running in off the flank; power and precision in his shooting; creativity as the Eredivisie’s top chance creator; skill and speed with his dribbling; aerial threat, as he showed against Senegal… Gakpo has all the attributes required of a modern forward and after his perfect treble at the World Cup had clubs across Europe scrambling for his signature before Liverpool won the race.
However, there are other elements that come into the equation. It’s tempting to believe Liverpool are signing Gakpo to spite Manchester United, given their rival’s reported interest in the 23-year-old, but it’s likely that injuries within Jurgen Klopp’s squad are far more of a factor.
Luis Diaz suffered a setback in his return from a knee injury earlier this month, with Klopp describing the news as a “proper smash in the face”.
The Colombia winger has not played since October 9 and there is no official timeframe on his return, while Diogo Jota is expected to be out until February with a calf injury. Roberto Firmino is also out until early next month with an injury of his own.
As a result, Liverpool’s forward options are reduced to Mohamed Salah and Darwin Nunez. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain made a rare start in the front three during the 3-1 win at Aston Villa on Boxing Day, while Fabio Carvalho, Harvey Elliott and Curtis Jones – who is also currently injured – can also line up as wide forwards.
With Liverpool looking to make up ground in the race for the top four in the Premier League, as well as competing in the FA Cup and Champions League, the need to add to Klopp’s forward options amid so many injuries was clear.
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Liverpool and their manager may also have assessed the impressive impact made by Diaz after his arrival from Porto in the previous January window and decided that the potential for Gakpo to do something similar was too big to ignore.
“You don’t expect miracles immediately from these kind of players,” Klopp told Sky Sports in March, two months after Diaz’s signing. “But he is not far away from doing exactly that.”
Miracles may be too much to ask, but Gakpo’s performances for both PSV and the Netherlands suggest he could provide a crucial boost for Liverpool in the second half of the season.