The year is winding down and the transfer rumor mill is picking up. Liverpool are acquiring Cody Gakpo from PSV Eindhoven in a transfer swoop that shocked everybody, especially Manchester United, the club long rumored to be interested in Gakpo’s services. I’m Mike Goodman, and we’ll break down the first major move of the transfer window in today’s Golazo Starting XI newsletter.
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Manchester United Liverpool
Cody Gakpo is a Dutch striker that plays for PSV Eindhoven who Liverpool just acquired for somewhere in the range of $45 million. You might remember him from the recently concluded World Cup where he scored three goals for the Netherlands. He’s an interesting prospect, but not a slam-dunk acquisition. Though at a relatively cheap price, he doesn’t have to be for the move to be successful for Liverpool.
The World Cup was a successful one for Gakpo, but his scoring overshadowed concerns about his underlying statistical profile. That largely mirrors his time at PSV. Lots of goals and assists, but expected goal (xG) and expected assists (xA) numbers that suggest those relatively high tallies are unlikely to continue. At 6-foot-4, his big frame is extremely unusual for a winger or creative attacker who’s good with the ball at his feet, but questions about whether his game can translate to a more athletic Premier League remain.
From the Liverpool side of things, the move is easier to understand in the short term than it is for the long term. Gakpo’s preferred position is left wing and Jurgen Klopp may have an immediate need for a warm body there. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain started on the left on Tuesday in Liverpool’s first match back from the World Cup break. On the other hand, this is a team that has Luis Diaz and Diogo Jota injured and waiting to come back. Darwin Nunez can also play from the left when he’s not starting as the center forward, and Curtis Jones, Harvey Elliot and Fabio Carvalho all at least can play there even if it’s not their preferred position. It’s hard to see how all those bodies get minutes if they’re ever all healthy.
For more on Gakpo make sure to check out Chuck Booth’s breakdown of the move.
EPL heavyweights return with a bang
It’s too early to draw any conclusions but most of the Premier League’s biggest sides returned to action with dominant performances. Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United all won by multiple goals in their first post-World Cup appearances. The only fly in the ointment was Tottenham, returning on Boxing Day with a 2-2 draw after falling behind Brentford 2-0. Though, if you wanted to be snarky (and really who doesn’t want to be snarky about Spurs), that would also be par for the course. Manchester City will be up next on Wednesday against Leeds United.
Let’s get to some links, as the Premier League’s best return with authority:
- Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial can fill the attacking void for United, writes Chuck Booth.
- Arsenal are still looking like title frontrunners, writes James Benge.
- The Gunners did it in front of Arsene Wenger, who returned to the Emirates to watch his old team for the first time.
- While he was there, Wenger also met Bakayo Saka, also for the first time.
- Reece James returned to action for Chelsea, and promptly got hurt again.
- PSG is in action, and while Lionel Messi isn’t back with the club, most of the rest of the gang is ready to go.
- There is Messi news, however, as his hotel room from Qatar is reportedly being turned into a museum.
- House of Champions: It’s a holiday season mailbag episode as the gang answers questions on the USMNT and more.
- Attacking Third: It’s the year in review, also where is Debinha off to?
- And remember, if you’re still looking for some VERY last-minute late gifts, Paramount+ is here for you. Use offer code ALLYEAR now to get 50% off the annual plan. We’ve got Messi in the Champions League, UEFA club competitions, Serie A, NWSL, FA Women’s Super League and more just one click away.
More club soccer coming at you fast, so let’s take a look at the biggest game of the day. All odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook.
- Leeds vs. Manchester City, Wednesday, 3 p.m. ET (USA)
💰 THE PICK: Man City (-460). Erling Haaland has had a lot of time off and he’s very good at scoring goals. Leeds is very bad at stopping people from scoring goals. Leeds will also be without the suspended Tyler Adams in midfield. Look for the City juggernaut to keep rolling as they fight to keep pace with Arsenal.