Manchester United’s attack looks woefully thin in its current state. One of the names earmarked with a potential move to Old Trafford to help solve that problem is highly rated PSV wide-man Cody Gakpo.
Date of Birth: 07/05/1999 (23)
Strong Foot: Right
Height: 1,89 m (6ft 2in)
Who is Cody Gakpo?Embed from Getty Images
Gakpo is a highly rated 23-year-old Dutch international currently playing for Eredivisie side PSV Eindhoven. Gakpo progressed through the ranks at PSV and has so far made 138 appearances for the club, registering 45 goals and 35 assists in all competitions. He made his debut for the Dutch national team in June 2021 and has since gone on to make a further six appearances, scoring two goals.
After an extremely impressive 2021/22 campaign, Gakpo could be on the move this summer having attracted interest from a few Premier League clubs.
While Antony was Erik ten Hag’s priority signing in attack this summer, Ajax have set an £80m price tag on the Brazilian winger which United are reportedly unwilling to pay. Due to this, Ten Hag has now shifted his attention to Gakpo who would cost around £40m, according to Simon Mullock. The Dutch attacker has also attracted interest from Leeds United and Arsenal.
Having won the Dutch footballer of the year award, Gakpo is one of the most exciting young players in Europe at the moment. His pace as well as majestic dribbling ability makes it very difficult for defenders to keep him quiet. Gakpo is also very strong which makes it even harder for defenders as he’s able to use his strength to hold them off. His physical ability would be great for him in England as the Premier League is of course a far more physical league than the Eredivisie.Embed from Getty Images
He also has great ball control and technique. On top of that, he’s really good with his movement and he also has great positional awareness. Gakpo also ended last season with 15 assists in all competitions which is a testament to his immense creative ability. Last season in the Eredivisie, the Eindhoven winger created 11 big chances and also averaged 2.6 key passes per 90 minutes played and that shows he’s capable of playing passes to split open defences and create goal-scoring opportunities for his teammates.
In addition, to his ability to create chances for his teammates, Gakpo is also great at putting the ball in the net himself. He took his goal-scoring ability to the next level last season. Before the start of the 2021/22 season, Gakpo had played nearly 90 times for PSV registering 22 goals. However, he managed 21 goals in 47 appearances last season – only one less goal than he managed in his entire PSV career prior to that season. He’s already begun this season brilliantly goal-scoring-wise as well having already scored three goals in three games.
Another impressive attribute to Gakpo’s game is his versatility. While he is best on the left wing, he’s also capable of playing as a striker and right-winger. Despite only being 23, Gakpo is also a leader having captained PSV on multiple occasions.
WeaknessesEmbed from Getty Images
As exciting as Gakpo is, he is still young and there are areas he needs to improve. He’s quite poor aerially. While aerial ability isn’t as important for a winger as it is for players in other positions, at 6’’2, it’s an area he could and should look to improve in as it would add another dimension to his game.
As well as being poor aerially, Gakpo’s first touch lets him down at times and his decision-making could also improve but he is still only 23 and that will improve as he gains more experience.
Where would he fit in?Embed from Getty Images
Gakpo would add depth and quality to United’s attack. His versatility to play on the left and as well as through the middle and even on the right is very valuable. The only concern is the only winger United have who’s good on the right is Sancho. While Gakpo can play on the right wing, it’s not his best position and it may be wiser to use the money on a player who predominantly plays on the right side of the attack instead of spending it on another left-winger. United’s three main wingers are Sancho, Rashford and Elanga. Out of those 3, all of them can play on the left but Sancho is the only one who’s good on the opposite side. United also have Anthony Martial who can play on the left and highly rate youngster Alejandro Garnacho also predominantly plays on the left wing.
VerdictEmbed from Getty Images
As good as Gakpo is, the left-wing is the last position in attack United need to improve. It’s blatantly clear that another striker is essential as well as a quality right-winger, as Jadon Sancho is the only player United have who’s good in that position.
It’s also bizarre that Ten Hag would shift his focus from Antony, a player who’s essentially a specialist right-winger, to Cody Gakpo, a player who can play on the right flank but predominantly plays on the left. The only way it really makes sense is if Ten Hag has a plan to develop Gakpo into a specialist striker, which is a position the Red Devils do need to bolster due to the lack of options. It could also be that Ten Hag feels he could develop him into a player who’s as good on the right-wing as he is on the left-wing.
While Gakpo is definitely a high-quality player with a lot of potential, United don’t desperately need him at the moment. Despite this, if Erik ten Hag wants him, United should back him and pursue a deal for the 23-year-old.