Cody Gakpo has revealed the role Virgil van Dijk played in convincing him to join Liverpool, as he completed his £37million move from PSV Eindhoven last night.
Gakpo completed his medical on Wednesday and will be officially announced as a Liverpool player once he receives his work permit. However, he was quick to praise the role of fellow Holland international and Liverpool defensive kingpin Van Dijk who was at the club’s AXA training centre to greet him.
‘We spoke a lot over the phone [in] the last days,’ said Gakpo, who will wear the number 18 shirt that was once the property of Michael Owen and his compatriot Dirk Kuyt.
‘What he told me was that this is the right move for me to make and for me to develop and to become a better player, that the club is a really big and massive club but also like a real family – I think that’s also very important for me because I’m a family guy. He said only good things.
‘At the moment I was calling [in] with the coach, he came into the office of the coach and then he saw me and we chatted a little bit,’ Gakpo told Liverpoolfc.com. ‘I’m also happy that he’s here, so he can help me with some stuff. I’m really grateful to be here.
‘I’m really looking forward to playing at Anfield. I heard a lot of great stories about the stadium, about the atmosphere. I cannot wait.
‘My aim is to win as many prizes as we can as a team, to perform well, to show the world what we can do as a team and what I can do as a player. And personally, just to keep developing and become a better player every season.’
Liverpool moved for Gakpo once they became aware rivals such as Manchester United did not have the budget to compete in this window.
Sporting director Julian Ward spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in negotiations with PSV counterpart Marcel Brands to complete a deal that will rise to £45m with add-ons.
Manager Jurgen Klopp hugged Gakpo on his arrival and 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.’
Gakpo, who has signed a five and a half year contract, could be in contention to make his debut at Brentford on Monday and Liverpool are still in the market to strengthen further. Though Borussia Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham is their number one target for the summer, they are looking to add another midfielder this month on loan if the right player becomes available.
Klopp is considering all options as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita, as well as James Milner, are out of contract in the summer and have not been approached about new deals.