Cody Gakpo reveals Virgil van Dijk's influence on move to 'great club' Liverpool

Dutch forward set to join Premier League club from PSV Eindhoven on January 1

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Cody Gakpo has said Netherlands captain Virgil van Dijk had a big influence on him deciding to join Liverpool as the Dutch forwarded completed his move to the Premier League club, subject to a work permit.

Gakpo will officially join Liverpool from PSV Eindhoven on January 1 after agreeing personal terms and successfully completing a medical at the club's training centre on Wednesday. While the transfer fee has not been made public, PSV's general manager Marcel Brands said “it is a record transfer fee" for the Dutch club. PSV's previous highest sale was Hirving Lozano's move to Napoli in 2019 for €45m.

Gakpo, 23, recently shone at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, becoming the first Dutch player to score in each of the three group-stage games. The Netherlands were eliminated in the quarter-finals by eventual champions Argentina.

After completing the formalities on his move, Gakpo sat down for an interview with the Liverpool website and was asked if Van Dijk had played a role in his move to the club.

"Yes, for sure, because he's our (Netherlands) captain, he's a great personality, he's a great player," Gakpo said. "He can help me a lot with some stuff. But the club itself is also a really big club and [it's a] really nice achievement for me personally that there was interest from the club and, at the end, that I'm here. So, both sides."

Gakpo also revealed that he had many conversations with Van Dijk in the days leading up to his move, after Liverpool had made their intentions clear by submitting a bid to PSV.

"At the moment I was calling [in] with the coach (Jurgen Klopp), he came into the office and we chatted a little bit," Gakpo said. "We spoke a lot over the phone the last days.

"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. I'm also happy that he's here, so he can help me with some stuff. I'm really grateful to be here."

Cody Gakpo and Virgil Van Dijk during the World Cup Qatar 2022 match between Netherlands and Qatar. Getty

Gakpo will further boost and reshape Liverpool's attacking options following the arrivals over the past 12 months of Colombian forward Luis Diaz and Uruguayan striker Darwin Nunez. For a club whose most successful recent spell was spearheaded by the 'Fab Three' of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, and Sadio Mane, it is clear Liverpool are building for a new era.

Yet, while Mane has left for Bayern Munich and Firmino's future is reportedly unclear, Salah signed a new contract in the summer to remain at Liverpool until 2025, and Gakpo said he is excited to team up with the Egyptian superstar.

"It's really great," he said. "He's a fantastic player and I'm really looking forward to learning things from him and to see how he does things so I can also improve my game and that we can win a lot of games together."

Discussing his ambitions for what he hopes to achieve with Liverpool, Gakpo, who has signed a five-and-a-half year contract, said: "Obviously 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 manager Klopp said he was delighted to welcome Gakpo to the club and believes the Dutchman will prove a massive success at Anfield.

“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 (sporting director) Julian [Ward]," Klopp said.

“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.”

Updated: December 29, 2022, 4:41 AM
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