Every writer who read Cody Gakpo’s name in the Netherlands’ starting lineup before their game against Senegal certainly imagined the same story: the team’s emerging star, who was trusted by his coach in the first XI despite stiff competition, would score the game’s opening goal.
Last season, he had the opportunity to advance his career by joining a big club – Manchester United, no less. That transfer did not happen in the end, yet it had no effect on his progress. In reality, he has turned into a genuine star this season, impressing in both the UEFA Champions League and the Eredivisie, garnering the interest of teams such as Liverpool and Bayern Munich. Gakpo’s stature, skill, and dynamism have earned repeated parallels to Robin van Persie, which was underlined when he scored his first FIFA World Cup TM goal with his head.
Gakpo to be compared with the Legend
Gakpo’s fairy-tale 84th-minute effort delighted not just those journalists and football romantics, but also the entire country and, in particular, the Dutch national team. The 1.89m forward’s goal lifted the Oranje in what had otherwise been a hard-fought match. Fans at the Al Thumama Stadium saw big-name players like Virgil van Dijk, Frenkie de Jong, and Edouard Mendy in action in the hotly-anticipated Group A showdown, although both teams lacked incision moving forward.
All of this contributed to validating Louis van Gaal’s choice to start Gakpo following his excellent recent progress. It’s an incredible feeling,” he told FIFA+. “It was a big goal and a tough game, but we pulled it off as a team in the end.” We won with two goals and three points. And it was the most essential thing because it was a level playing field.
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Gakpo has now scored three goals in his previous four international appearances, putting him on the radar of a number of Europe’s top teams. When questioned about the similarities to Van Persie, he grinned before noting that they just serve to strengthen his focus. He’s a renowned player in the Netherlands and across the world,” the 23-year-old added. “It’s an honor to be compared to him, but I’m my own player at the end of the day.” I need to prove myself and give it my all.