Cody Gakpo is demonstrating that his Eredivisie form can be transferred to the Premier League
The move from the Eredivisie to the Premier League is not always easy. Even Luis Suarez, an undeniably successful Liverpool signing, managed only 15 league goals in his first 18 months in England. Acclimating to a higher level of football can take some time.
Fans and commentators usually take moves from the Eredivisie with caution due to numerous players crossing across from the Netherlands and being significantly less effective than Suarez. Cody Gakpo had similar reservations, but they are quickly dispelled.
The 23-year-old now has four goals for Liverpool, all of which came in crucial games against Everton, Newcastle, and Manchester United. einsteineruploading up to get together with.
Gakpo was asked which of his goals was better after scoring a brace (his first since October) in United’s 7-0 defeat. “The most beautiful was the second one, the most important was the first,” he said, and his remark was right in more ways than one.
His strike at the Kop end, described as “an absolute wow moment” by Jamie Carragher on Monday Night Football, brought back memories of Philippe Coutinho’s famous goal in a Europa League match at Old Trafford. The Liverpool man pushed the ball past David de Gea from the tightest of angles in both cases, although from separate sides.
With the introduction of in-depth data analysis in football, we can finally contextualize Gakpo’s finish. According to Opta’s post-shot predicted goal model, which takes into account the placement of the goal attempt as well as where it was struck, the Dutchman’s effort was nearly un-saveable.
They rated it 0.96, making it the strongest shot delivered by any Liverpool player in the league or Europe this season. The only greater effort in either of their games was Ruben Neves’ 0.97-second strike for Wolves’ third goal at Molineux. Yet, that was already a 0.65 chance in normal expected goal terms, whereas Gakpo’s United effort was 0.21, indicating that he has a long way to go to reach the top 90s.
While not as drastic, the former PSV man took a 0.07 xG chance and turned it into 0.55 through finishing to score in the first half against United as well. Gakpo’s chances against the Blues and Magpies were already valuable, but he blew another one.
In total, the Reds’ number 18 has scored 2.8 predicted goals in the Premier League, but 3.4 after finishing. This improvement should not be taken for granted, as Liverpool’s five primary forwards all had xG totals that were lower than their xG totals in the post-shot model previous season.
Gakpo also showed off his finishing skills at the World Cup. While converting three of his first four shots in Qatar was never going to be repeated, he added 0.69, 0.14, and 0.34 to the attempts that went in.
In the Eredivisie this season, the Netherlands international converted 6.4 predicted goals into 8.9 post-shots with PSV. It was reasonable to wonder if that margin would shrink in the harsher climates of the Premier League, and it did. Gakpo, on the other hand, is still in the picture, and he’s just just begun at Liverpool.
“That finish, that’s world class,” Carragher said of the forward’s second goal against Manchester United. The former Red-turned-pundit was correct, and this is only the beginning of what the £40 million man will bring to Jurgen Klopp’s side.