Ronald Koeman believes Cody Gakpo has a “great future” and made the right choice in signing for Liverpool.
After impressing at the World Cup, Gakpo joined Liverpool from PSV last month, with the Reds reportedly paying an initial £37million (€42m).
Since the start of last season until his move to Anfield, no player had more goal involvements in the Eredivisie than Gakpo’s 46 (21 goals, 25 assists). Indeed, no other player in Europe’s top 10 leagues tallied at least 20 goals and 20 assists over the same timeframe.
However, after four games – all starts – for Liverpool, Gakpo is yet to score or set up a goal. He has had 12 shots, with three hitting the target, and only 18 touches in the opposition penalty area.
While it has been a slow start for the 23-year-old, new Netherlands coach Koeman, back in charge for a second time, is confident Gakpo will develop into a top player.
“I think it’s important that he’s playing and that’s really important for a young kid like Gakpo, [to be] struggling,” Koeman told Stats Perform at the Nations League Finals draw, with the Oranje, who are hosts for the mini-tournament in June, having been pitted against Croatia in the semi-finals.
“It’s difficult because Liverpool is not in the last few months at that [high] level. That’s always difficult for a new signing, to come in during the season.
“You have to give him that time to develop and to adapt to the Premier League because it’s a different level.
“The intensity is much higher than he used to play in Holland but he’s young and he will learn and he will be better. But he has a great future.”
As the Netherlands look beyond the Nations League Finals and towards Euro 2024, Koeman will be hoping to build on a young core of players.
“We have a great history, we have always creating good young talent and let’s hope that they will develop as star players, and that will be really important for the national team,” he added.
The Netherlands lost to Portugal in the final of the inaugural Nations League in 2019, and Koeman is hoping to make home advantage count this time around.
“We are looking forward, we play at home,” he said.
“We saw Croatia during the World Cup and they’re a really experienced football team.
“It’s an extra [boost] that we play in front of our crowd in Holland. We know what the difficulty is when you play away.
“We have that experience in 2019 against Portugal in the final that we lost 1-0. Let’s hope that the crowd will push the team.”