On the Road to Qatar: Cody Gakpo

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The name is Lowievenkaals Armie (Louis van Gaal’s Army the way Louis van Gaal pronounces it)….


Cody Gakpo is widely seen as the best player in the Eredivisie at the moment. Again. He’s involved in 29 goals so far in 22 matches (13 goals, 16 assists) and wants to perform at that same level in Qatar and than make a big money move next summer.

Last deadline day was a special one for PSV fans. They knew big money clubs were courting their star and while Gakpo plays a great game versus Volendam, the fans are looking at their phone. Is there a deal being made to lure their favorite son away? Leeds United would have sent a plane to Eindhoven. Southampton just upped their offer. PSV’s board want Gakpo to go. They also want Sangare to go to. PSV needs the money.

But Gakpo isn’t feeling it. He had his mind set on Man United. And decides to stay. The chant “Cody Has To Stay” worked. As a result, the PSV board decides to scold TD John de Jong for keeping Gakpo at the club (what??) and as a result De Jong resigns from his job. Ruud van Nistelrooy is livid. Gakpo is puzzled. And general manager Marcel Brands decides to take it on the chin.

A winter transfer might be on the cards. Due to the Gakpo stats, bigger clubs are circling now. Man United is back on deck and Real Madrid has informed as well. PSV needs the money. But Gakpo can’t be bothered.

The peace he exudes is the result of his disciplined upbringing in a stable family situation. His dad is from Togo, his mum is Dutch. The people who know Cody say he’s not just a unique player, he’s also a unique human being. Deeply religious and highly intelligent. One of his fave books (…) is Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich, from 1937. Gakpo has an idol. It’s Pele. How many 23 year olds would carry around a photo of the Brazilian legend? Gakpo calls himself “an old soul”.

Gakpo was tested academically and given the advice to go for a university degree. He decided to stick to high school and focus on football. But with a broader interest. When a group of journalists cornered PSV general manager Gerbrands, back in 2017, in a hotel at trainings camp, Gakpo – then 17 years old – stuck around to listen as a fly on the wall. Like a sponge.

Toon Gerbrands: “He spoke to me in those days about what he would do after his career! He was only 17 years old and wanted to know what a general manager does. We had so many conversations, about how you manage a bad-news conversation, or how you assess people’s values when recruiting. I bought a book on philosophy for him and he was really intrigued. It had questions like “where were you before you were born” and “how do you know what is the Truth”. And he would always come back to me with further questions or comments and we’d have these really fun debates.”

Gakpo is highly religious and prays several times per day. He even once organised a prayer session at the Philips Stadium, for 200 people. Toon Gerbrands was there: “It wasn’t very “biblical” or anything, just a warm session speaking about the higher power and we had four people who previously didn’t believe, who converted! One person even started crying. I never had that experience before with a football player.”

Gakpo started at the PSV Academy at 7 and perfected his dribble and his shooting. “My dad always told me to shoot low. it’s harder for the goalie to get to the ground. My dad was a number 10 and played at a high level in Togo. We discuss football a lot. And we still play together on a little grass pitch here in town. He’s my toughest critic.”

Aad de Mos says Gakpo has canons in his feet. “He has the same kicking technique as Willy van der Kuylen. Today, Gareth Bale does it as well, Harry Kane too. Or Ryan Babel. We call it the hipshot. No back swing. You can’t see they’re going to shoot. Van der Kuylen used to perfection. The goalie and the defenders thought they had another second to block but the ball was already in the net.”

Luc Nilis taught Gakpo never to shoot at full 100% capacity. Always at 80%. Gakpo: “I have learned so much from Luc Nilis. He always said, you gotta know where the goal is. The goal never moves. So if you know where it is, you don’t need to look, you can fully concentrate on the ball. I noticed a lot of players look up to where the goal is, a couple of times. Those are the nano seconds you can lose control or the defender nips in or the ball makes a funny jump and you hit the stands. Shooting at full 100% capacity usually means you lose control. The body stiffens and there is no flow. The speed of the ball is not just the result of the power in the muscles, but also the move of the body, and the swing of the leg.”

With dad

His youth coaches ( Twan Scheepers, Mark van Bommel) say that due to this specific skills, he is very hard to play. And the stats demonstrate it. Below is the “Growth as a Player” overview, of Gakpo in all competitions. It’s in Dutch, but you get the drift, I’m sure.

Growth as a player. Cody in all competitions.

Wedstrijden = matches, basis plaatsen = starting line up, speelminuten = minutes played, schoten = shots, op doel = on target, kansen gecreeerd = chances created, uit open spel = from open play, bal contacten = touches, in de 16 = in the box, passes aangekomen = successful passes, pass nauwkeurigheid = pass accuracy, dribbels aangegaan = dribbles started and voltooid = completed.

Van Gaal can use Cody on different positions. He can play a 10 or a striker in the 3-5-2 system. He can also play left winger in a 4-3-3. It was Van Gaal who convinced Gakpo that he can be a number 10, by the way. About Van Gaal, when the veteran coach was appointed, Gakpo went to see Gerbrands: “You worked for 4 years with him at AZ. What kind of man is he?”

This typifies the player and the person Cody Gakpo. Always prepared, always focused.

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  1. Guys, my head just exploded!! I don’t watch the Australian league and I missed out on this kid but his story is compelling so I watched the high lights reel (see link below). He is AMAZING!

    Move over Messi, Haaland and Xavi Simons.

    Garang Kuol was born in Egypt, to Sudanese asylum seekers, who ended up in West Sydney. Garang played on a field with the amateurs until his brother – I believe he plays in Europe now – pointed out that his kid bro was the true talent.

    He is 18 years old and has yet to start a league game in Oz, but Arnold selected him for the World Cup. And I can see why. The kid is incredible.

    Newcastle United signed him already. He will be massive.


  2. @Wilson, from your comment on the previous thread: “Danjuma should have been the 26th man and the player that he should have been selected over should have been either Talyor/ klaassen.”

    I was thinking the same a day or so ago. Why not select Danjuma over Taylor? My simplistic thinking is that if LVG wants to go with an extra offensive player in mf, Berghuis appears to be his preferred starter. If something happens to Berghuis, Lang fits the spot well, as could Simons or Klaassen. If he wants to play more conventionally, Koopmeiners, De Roon and Klaassen can all play in that spot. Even assuming that Depay gets healthy, Simons and Lang are the only reserves who will run at a defense with speed and skill.

    Of course, now having said that, I am almost certain Taylor (who did look good in the Nations League games he played) will now play a key role in a game(s); probably floating a pass into the box that Weghorst will head across goal to Luuk De Jong for a late game winner. 😉

    One thing the 14 game unbeaten run has shown is that Van Gaal has good reasons for his decisions.

    1. we are short of a Speedster forward..We onlyhave Berjwin,Depay,and Lang has the speed…donyell malen would have been a rocket…Taylor works his butt off for the team..He could be the balancing guy in crunch times..He connects with team mates…Malen for Weghorst would have been nice for depth for the squad..Since We have Klassen,Simons,Berghuis and even Gakpo for playmaker i would have gone with Pascal struijk as defense wins the tournaments..Any red card or injury will see the end of oranje…

  3. Enjoying these background series.

    Gakpo could prove very effective if used well from the bench.

    I remember him replacing Berghuis in the wing against (???last game in Europe league??) and he made a world of difference.

    Viable option for both wide areas if an injection of energy and electric is needed.

    Wish he would push himself. He sometimes have that tendency to play within himself.

  4. I agree re: the Danjuma comments. It’s a shame he isn’t there. Just another weapon to have. I don’t believe Klaassen is good enough for this level. qualifications v Greece or Sweden or Turkey, sure. But Argentina? France? We need better ball players than Klaassen in midfield and stronger and faster and more skilled forwards than him.

    Klaassen is good in a lot of things but not great in any of them. Shame. But… our guru LVG probably sees something we don’t, as Klaassen is not Danny Blind’s son (or…is he??).

    Gakpo can be the break out star for us. I find him still too hot/cold to my liking to be world class. Wijnaldum left PSV when he was what, 23, 24 years old with 7 seasons in the Eredivisie under his belt. The likes of Gakpo and Gravenberch should not leave too soon.

    I still think Gravenberch should have stayed one more year in Amsterdam. He would have been a starter in this WC. Dumbass

    1. Jan, I agree on Gakpo and Grav. These young guys need some better advice when and where they go. But the $ and fame are too strong to resist. We’ve lost a few talents with the rush moves. DeBeek is the saddest of them all in our recent history

  5. This is how the perfect QF showdown will look like if there is no upsets or setback.

    Nertherlands vs Argentia
    Brazil vs Spain
    England vs France
    Germany vs Portugal.

    I would say Germany and Portugal have easy routes who ever wins in that game. Portugal is my dark horse while Germany could spring in a surprise if their Backline can give in a mighty performance. This is where they are thin others wise with Bayern contingent (7) in all other departments, they shouldn’t be overlooked.

    1. I’m with you Emmanuel. Especially now that we are free of headless chickens like Kuyt etc. 🙂 How do they dare say that? Off with their heads. I wish I knew how to put a spell on these b@ster.ds 🙂

      1. @Balkan i never called kuyt headless chicken. I called some other players.. Kuyt couldn’t dribble past a first stanard kid.. So how he became a forward??.. Apart from his poor skills on ball or with ball, i never had any problem with him..

  6. If you are not watching Qatar vs Ecuador please do not do. It will really hurt your eyes. Qatar is probably the worst team to have ever played in a WC. I’ll be shocked if they score a single goal in the 3 games. It is a pity because this country has no relation to football whatsoever. It is like trying to have a swimming tournament in the North Pole.
    This has nothing to do with making football popular. It is just that Qatar doesn’t know what to do with all the money. With all that $$ they could have given citizenship to 11 stars from south america and have a decent team.

  7. Hi, Jan, greetings from Budapest 🙂
    hahaha, Tiju, Iremember your “headless chicken” rants. Anyway, Ihope iranje will do better this time than in 2014 and will win the World Cup. I think Argentina is overhyped, but first we have to win tomorrow…

    1. @Ferenc ..Long time bro ,nice to see you back..Those headless chicken rants were about quincy promes,and some one else not kuyt..i never doubte kuts football intelligence…i always had problem with him as creative forward,who could not get past small kids..Arjentina is most overrated team ..

  8. Re: Noppert

    I won’t be surprised if he has an outstanding tournament. I have watched him alot at heerenveen. Even though they get thrashed in some games but He doesn’t get beaten cheaply

  9. For Gakpo, I agree what with what Jan said “hot and cold”. if he doesnt live up to expectation after group stage, he can forget about big transfer deal or being marketable

  10. possible senegal line up

    Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Mendy (Chelsea); Sabaly (real Betis), Koulibaly (Chelsea), Diallo (Leipziq), Ballo-Toure (Milan); Kouyate (Nottingham Forest) , Mendy (Leicester City), Gueye (Everton); Diatta (Moanco), Dia (Villareal/salenitana , Sarr (watford)

    like I said earler you can expect to the Senegalese to physically match up the dutch and it will take take some real cutting edge to breach them. lang off course from the bench.

  11. Watched the opening game and had to stop watching after 10 minutes as it hurt my eye. The off side call was interesting. The floating ball in was headed up, and the player who touched it after the bounce was offside, by a millimeter :-). Good call but hard to understand without subtitles, hahaha….

    I think from the presser it is clear that Gakpo plays on 10, not Klaassen. Yay.

    Noppert on goal could well be a big mistake. Or it could mean Noppert will be playing for Real Madrid next season (he does remind me of Courtois… who was third keeper at a club Jan Boskamp was involved with in Belgium and Boskamp said they wanted to send him home regularly as he was s**t hahahaha).


    Gravenberch would be the partner for Frenkie for me, instead of Koopmeiners.

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