Liverpool have exacted revenge for a rare transfer defeat in 2021 by winning the race for Cody Gakpo and prolonging a transfer trend that dates back four years.
During the Jürgen Klopp era, Liverpool have scored a series of landmark transfer victories over their Premier League rivals.
Alisson snubbed Chelsea to join the Reds in 2018 because he ‘admired Liverpool’s history’ and believed he could realise his dream of winning the Champions League at Anfield (via FourFourTwo). The Blues, he recalled, ‘were changing their manager’ and playing in the Europa League at the time.
Virgil van Dijk also turned down the west London outfit, as well as Manchester City, above all because of the opportunity to work with a ‘special’ manager in Klopp (via AS).
Earlier this year, Tottenham Hotspur tried to sign Luis Díaz from FC Porto, but the Colombian ‘had the dream of reaching of Liverpool’, according to his father, and agreed to join when the Reds swooped in (via the ECHO).
Liverpool have also denied their arch-rivals Manchester United on numerous occasions too. Thiago and Fabinho both favoured the switch to Anfield over Old Trafford (via The Independent/The Statesman) while Darwin Núñez chose to forego the higher wage offered by the Red Devils to play Champions League football at Anfield (via David Lynch/The National News).
There have, however, been some rare defeats too. In 2021, for instance, United beat Liverpool in the race to sign Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund. Klopp and his assistant Pep Lijnders were ‘major admirers’ of Sancho, and FSG were ‘more than happy’ to meet Dortmund’s £73m demands (via David Lynch).
But in the end, the winger was guided partly by monetary incentives, accepting a £270,000-per-week proposal from United when the Reds were only willing to pay him half that amount.
Liverpool may have been confident of landing the Englishman up until those wage expectations emerged. Now, though, they have exacted fresh revenge on Erik ten Hag’s side by striking a deal for PSV Eindhoven’s Cody Gakpo. As per The Athletic’s David Ornstein, the 23-year-old forward chose Liverpool over United and Chelsea.
In a sense, Gakpo can be Liverpool’s Sancho, having left United ‘seething’ by agreeing to join their nemeses. He looked set to become their fourth Eredivisie addition in the space of six months, but Liverpool were so quick that they left them ‘stranded’ (via Neil Jones).
Of course, Liverpool won’t regret their failure to sign Sancho. They wound up with Díaz instead in the very next transfer window, and he’s been excellent since he arrived.Cody Gakpo is on his way to Liverpool
United’s Sancho move, on the other hand, has been a spectacular failure. He’s only managed eight goals and four assists in 52 appearances, and didn’t even make the England squad for the World Cup in Qatar.
There have admittedly been mitigating circumstances, with four different managers in charge at various intervals since Sancho joined. The situation he faced was hardly conducive to success in his debut season.
Perhaps if he’d instead walked into a Liverpool team that went on to push for a quadruple, the story of his Premier League career to date would look very different. But United still had a right to expect an awful lot more from a player who ranks as the fourth-most expensive signing in their history.
Gakpo, at an initial £37m ($45m/€42m), is significantly cheaper, but also walks into a tricky situation at the other end of the East Lancashire road. For the first time in the Klopp era, Liverpool are underachieving, and they look like a dysfunctional team at times. The manager must ensure he extracts the best out of the Dutchman and, in the process, leaves United ruing their complacency.