Cody Gakpo seems to be Qatar’s biggest breakout star as he has impressed for Louis van Gaal’s Netherlands side in the group stages.
The 23-year-old winger has scored 3 goals in 4 games so far in the World Cup and his form is only heightening the transfer rumours surrounding him.
Gakpo – the latest gem to be unearthed from the Eredivisie – hasn’t just starred in Qatar, he’s been on mind-blowing form all season back in the Netherlands.
The PSV winger has scored 9 goals and charted 12 assists in just 14 league games this term before the international break.
Whilst we have seen many wingers struggle to climatise to Europe’s strongest leagues (hence why they are so in demand) the numbers put up by Gakpo can’t be ignored. So, who is he, and why could he be the ‘next big thing’?
Cody Gakpo usually operates as a left winger, and has some traits of modern-day wingers, such as operating on the opposite side to their strongest foot and cutting inside.
What sets him apart from modern-day wingers though, is his height. Most wingers are small and agile, like Raheem Sterling or Lionel Messi, but Gakpo stands at 6’1”, which doesn’t seem to fit the mould.
It is rare that a wide player gets involved with the goals as much as Cody Gakpo does, but his exemplary technical ability when striking or crossing the ball makes up for a lack of acceleration or ability on it – due to his height.
He is more of a deadly finisher than a ‘1 on 1’ dribbler, and he is usually seen creating chances by floating crosses into the box or finishing chances by steaming in as the last man at the back post.
The fact that the Netherlands international can also play on the right wing or as a frontman enhances his goalscoring abilities.
Since arriving in Qatar, he has been nothing short of a national hero in the group stages, scoring 3 goals in 3 group stages games, making him the joint top scorer alongside Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford and PSG’s Lionel Messi.
In the Netherlands first game of Group A, they left it late against Senegal. It was Cody Gakpo who broke the deadlock with his brave glancing header 6 minutes from time.
Gakpo continued his sparking first performance against Ecuador, where it took him just 6 minutes to unleash an unstoppable strike past Galindez. His wicked left-footed rocket wasn’t enough to secure a win though, because of Enner Valencia’s equaliser early in the second half.
Against Qatar, in the final game of the group, Gakpo’s smart one-two with Davy Klassen set him up perfectly to fire the Netherlands into the lead. On the stretch, he steered his shot around Barsham and raised his World Cup goal tally to 3.
The interest from Europe’s elite is ramping up, and there will be many clubs after his signature in January. Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona are interested in Gakpo’s services, in addition to the Premier League’s Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal.
Leeds United were linked to the star for around £25m in the Summer, and the deal was ‘99% done’ according to manager Jesse Marsch. PSV are wanting at least £50m now.
Arsenal need strength in depth to keep their title charge alive, but it is Manchester United who seem the most interested in Gakpo, especially after the Cristiano Ronaldo interview with Piers Morgan that sent shockwaves around world football.
Manchester United need an attacker to replace Ronaldo, who has seen his contract terminated. Gakpo stands at 6’1”, is a proven goal scorer, can operate across the front three and is younger. He’s surely the perfect fit for the Red Devils?