Having survived relegation on the final matchday of the last season, Leeds United have strengthened their squad with the arrivals of Brenden Aaronson and Ramus Kristensen from Red Bull Salzburg and Marc Roca from Bayern Munich. However, they have lost Kalvin Phillips to Manchester City already and may lose Raphinha before the start of the season. While Roca can be an adequate replacement for Phillips, the Whites are yet to find an alternative to the Brazilian. There have been several names tipped for this and one such man is Netherlands and PSV Eindhoven winger, Cody Gakpo.
Gakpo appeared in 46 games for PSV Eindhoven last season, including six in the UEFA Champions League qualifying stages, when they were defeated by Benfica in the play-off round. He scored two goals at a rate of 0.38 per 90 against xG’s prediction of 0.43 per 90. He tried 3.24 shots per 90 and hit 35% of these on target. Gakpo’s greatest strength, though, was his dribbling ability, as he attempted about nine per game and had a success percentage of more than 89%, demonstrating his direct approach in the build-up. He fought in about 17 offensive duels per 90 and won just under 72% of the time.
Gakpo was often involved in the game, attempting roughly 32 passes per 90 with a pass accuracy of 77.7%. He averaged 3.43 progressive runs per 90 minutes, putting him in the top 12% of attackers. He completed 2.29 crosses per 90, placing him in the top quartile. The Dutchman also averaged 1.91 smart passes per 90 and 2.1 through passes per 90, which ranked him in the 93rd percentile among forwards in both categories.
Gakpo’s first goal came from inside the six-yard box, while his second came from outside the penalty area. Besides the two goals he scored, he had six shots on target. He took most of his shots from outside the box. The 23-year-old attempted 17 shots, which means he needed 8.5 attempts to score a goal.
Gakpo was an active player on the left-hand side of the final third. He could cut inside from the wing which gave the left-back space to make overlapping runs from deep, or he could drift outside and provide crosses into the penalty box. Last season in the Europa League, the Dutchman’s direct approach allowed him to complete 9.2 progressive carries per 90, 2.4 carries into the attacking third per 90, and 1.2 carries into the penalty area per 90.
Cody Gakpo scored and assisted 12 goals each in 27 matches last season in the Eredivisie and had a goal involvement every 79 minutes. However, signings from the Dutch top flight do not always succeed, and this transfer may be a risky bet for Leeds United. However, they may need to take this risk, especially with other clubs also interested in the Dutchman’s services.