Last updated 13 hours ago. from the Liverpool section.
In some ways, Cody Gakpo is a trailblazer.
The most recent addition to Liverpool, who will formally move from PSV Eindhoven at the start of the January transfer window, has become one of the most in-form and sought-after players in Europe over the past 18 months.
The 23-year-old forward has scored 21 goals and provided 25 assists in 41 Eredivisie games since the start of the 2020–21 season, garnering interest from a number of elite clubs, including Manchester United.
Gakpo, a left-sided player who can also play in the center, saw his stock rise after the Netherlands' three goals at the World Cup in Qatar.
Gakpo was born in Eindhoven, and when he was six years old, he enrolled in the PSV academy. Throughout his career, his parents—a Ghanaian father and a Dutch mother—have been among his staunchest supporters.
Due to his commitment to his development, he has previously acknowledged working on his game with his father in nearby parks when time permits.
He also conducts one-on-one sessions with performance analyst and founder of Tactalyse, coach Loran Vrielink, to help football players better understand their games.
Cody wanted to set a higher standard and be more effective, according to Vrielink, who speaks to BBC Sport.
"He puts money into himself. The fact that players need to work harder on their own development and cannot solely rely on the head coach is becoming more and more clear to them.
"Due to time constraints, many of the details we discuss are difficult to coach. You analyze the game and note the crucial details, such as where he picks up the ball and how his body and head are positioned.
"All of our players grow tactically and cognitively. Cody accepts that we must adapt to what the coach requests. ".
Helping Gakpo succeed in various positions, according to Vrielink, has been one of the main priorities.
Before the World Cup, we were aware that he would play as a number 10 or a striker in a different formation, according to Vrielink.
The various positions were our main concern. Ruud van Nistelrooy, the manager at PSV, had different expectations for him this year than Roger Schmidt had.
"He is always more effective on the left, and given Liverpool's roster, there is potential for him to play more [there].". That's the area in which he excelled the most. ".
There are physical and stylistic similarities between Gakpo and former France and Arsenal player Thierry Henry, who Gakpo idolized growing up and still watches on YouTube.
Although he is 6 feet 4 inches tall and has a striker-like build, the player also possesses the speed and control needed to play out wide.
English football, according to Vrielink, is more brisk and advanced. "He needs to adjust, and that takes time, but I'm confident he'll succeed.
He participated in a few, albeit few, games as a striker for PSV. Although he is taller than the majority of players, he can be very effective with his touch and dribbles.
"He has a decent shooting range. He is a different kind of winger than the ones Liverpool currently has. ".
Gakpo has all the characteristics to alter his style in a tactically fluid environment, such as that fostered by Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, according to Dutch journalist Elko Born on the Football Daily podcast.
People have expressed a desire to see him develop into a number nine in the future, in part due to his physical attributes, according to Born.
He is able to play with his back to the goal. He is a complete player, which is appealing. At the World Cup, he demonstrated that he is prepared to advance in his career. ".
Gakpo's career has taken off due to his inner drive and desire, as expressed by Dutch captain Virgil van Dijk when he said his new club teammate could "go to the moon and back.".
Cody is a clever player who considers the game, says Vrielink.
He analyzes his behavior to determine how to be more consistent. You develop more confidence if you do that more frequently.
"In the past, he would occasionally score and occasionally not; his inability to finish was caused by his inability to create chances.
"We concentrated on generating 10 opportunities per game, and he now accomplishes that. Understanding how to run is the first step in creating and succeeding without the ball.
Some athletes focus on their goals and assists. Because he concentrates on what needs to be done, Cody is able to view the game more deeply.
"We talk about mentality, but knowing what you have to do tactically motivates you more. You'll get more goals and assists if you generate 10 chances per game, as Cody does. ".
Although it may seem as though Liverpool signed a player after he had a strong World Cup, the evidence indicates that he had been preparing for this for 18 months. But he now needs to advance yet again.
According to Vrielink, the best players in the world never lose form.
"That consistency is still seriously lacking; in order to grow, you must look within.