Liverpool have completed the signing of Cody Gakpo from PSV Eindhoven after bringing forward their transfer plans to beat off rival interest from the likes of Manchester United for the Netherlands international.
Gakpo, who shone for Louis van Gaal’s team at the World Cup, has signed a five-and-a-half year contract with Liverpool and will cost an initial €40m (£35m). The total fee for the 23-year-old could rise to €50m.
The versatile forward had been a target for the United manager, Erik ten Hag, who shares the same agency as Gakpo, SEG, but Liverpool moved swiftly to meet PSV’s valuation and beat rival clubs to his signature after the World Cup.
Liverpool’s sporting director, Julian Ward, finalised the deal on Boxing Day after three successive days of negotiations with his PSV counterpart, Marcel Brands. Ward is leaving the Anfield club at the end of the season but, working on the transfer alongside head of recruitment, Dave Fallows, and chief scout, Barry Hunter, Liverpool’s business has continued without disruption.
Liverpool did, however, bring forward plans to sign Gakpo in light of his increasing prominence with the Netherlands and PSV, rival competition for his signature, and injuries to Luis Díaz and Diogo Jota. The two forwards could be sidelined until March and Gakpo, who can operate in a variety of roles, offers a talented alternative for a team chasing Champions League qualification.
Gakpo has been of interest to Jürgen Klopp for some time but an additional forward was not a priority last summer when Liverpool signed Darwin Núñez for a potential club record £85m plus Fabio Carvalho from Fulham. Liverpool had intended to move for the PSV forward next summer but, similarly to last January’s deal for Díaz, who was signed from Porto after Tottenham met the asking price for the Colombia international, plans were accelerated once rival interest was established and the extent of Díaz’s and Jota’s absences were known.
The 23-year-old scored in each of the Netherlands’ three group games at the World Cup and, prior to the break, was the Eredivisie’s leading scorer with nine goals and had produced the most assists with 12. He had a medical on Merseyside on Tuesday and Wednesday prior to finalising a deal that will see him officially become a Liverpool player on 1 January.
Gakpo returned to training at the end of last week after the World Cup and, subject to a work permit, should be eligible to make his debut at Brentford on Monday, although the FA Cup tie at home to Wolves on 7 January appears a more realistic target.
The Netherlands international said: “I think this is a great club for me to come in and try to show what I can do and try to help the team to achieve more beautiful moments that they already did in the past years. I think for me personally it’s also good to develop here and there’s a lot of great players here who I can learn a lot of things from.”
Klopp said: “It really is great news for us that we have been able to do it and I have to say it has been a fantastic job by everyone involved, especially Julian [Ward].
“The work that has gone into this has been really impressive and in the end we have managed to sign a player who we have known about for quite some time and who we believe will have a really bright future with us.
“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.”