Man Utd shown why they must beat Liverpool to £51m ace as pundit lauds ‘magnificent’ World Cup goal

Cody Gakpo and Frenkie de Jong

Pundits and commentators alike have sung the praises of Netherlands forward Cody Gakpo, as Manchester United and Liverpool prepare to battle over his signature.

With Memphis Depay still not at full fitness after a thigh injury, Gakpo has started up front for Holland in their first two World Cup matches. And he has made his mark on the tournament, getting on the scoresheet during both appearances.

He gave the Netherlands the lead against Senegal on Monday by heading a Frenkie de Jong cross past Edouard Mendy and into the net with six minutes of normal time remaining.

Gakpo was later joined by Davy Klaassen on the scoresheet as Louis van Gaal’s side began their World Cup campaign with a 2-0 win.

Gakpo was selected in attack again on Friday when the Netherlands came up against Ecuador. And he fired his nation in front just six minutes in by rifling a left-footed strike past Ecuador goalkeeper Hernan Galindez.

Clive Tyldesley, who was on ITV Sport’s coverage of the match, reacted to the goal by saying (25/11, at 16:07):  “Cody Gakpo, what a talent. This may just be his breakthrough stage. Scored crucially in the first game, and scores brilliantly in the second game.”

Ally McCoist, who was on co-commentary, added: “What a finish from Gakpo on the left foot. That’s a magnificent strike. Sharp from Klaassen, really sharp. The rest [is] just magnificent.

“[It] might just start outside of the post and curls in, absolutely beautiful finish.”

Former Netherlands midfielder Nigel de Jong, who was in the ITV studio, said of Gakpo at half time (25/11, at 16:55): “He’s a real talent. It was a great strike, and that’s also with his weakest foot. It was a difficult angle as well.

Cody Gakpo replaces Memphis Depay influence

“This is the guy in form now for the Dutch team, especially when Memphis Depay is not at full fitness yet.

“You’ve got to have the creativity from other players and they’ve got to step up to the occasion. Gakpo is doing that now, in back-to-back games.”

Gakpo is set to be the subject of a fierce transfer race in the January window. According to Media Foot, Man Utd boss Erik ten Hag has made the 23-year-old a transfer ‘priority’.

PSV are aware of the interest in their star man and have put his price tag at €60million (£51.5m). This is more than achievable for Man Utd, given the fact they paid Ajax £86m to sign Antony in the summer.

However, Man Utd’s move for Gakpo is under threat. Recent reports suggest Jurgen Klopp is a big fan of the attacker and wants Liverpool to get to him first.

Gakpo’s goals at the World Cup will have shown Man Utd why they should go all out for him and prevent him from moving to Liverpool.

Meanwhile, Chelsea have reportedly made contact with a Portuguese club to try and beat Man Utd to the capture of a 23-year-old star.