The Eredivisie. The Dutch top tier has been either creating or developing talent, that later go on to play in the top 5 leagues in Europe. Obviously, there are many examples of these success stories, for Dutch plays and foreign players, but that’s not exactly what I’m writing about in this piece. I want to have a closer look at PSV golden boy: Cody Gakpo.
PSV has a history with exciting talent up front, with the most talented players being Memphis (Barcelona) and Bergwijn (Tottenham Hotspurs). It’s not unlikely that Cody Gakpo will be the next export product that will impress people abroad. Now, he has signed a new contract just a few days ago – but that doesn’t mean that come summer, the big boys in Europe won’t be waving with their bags of Euros.
Cody Gakpo was born on May 7th, 1999 in Eindhoven and is a local boy. The 22-year old attacker can play as a winger, as well as the striker, but he is at his best when he plays on the left flank and can invert. After which he uses his right foot to dictate play and choose a corner of the goal to shoot.
He started to play for EVV Eindhoven AV before starting in the PSV academy in 2007 until 2018. In 2018 he made the step from the academy to the first team and hasn’t been out of the picture since.
In this article, I will use data, which comes from different sources. Most of the data comes from Wyscout and some will be from Soccerment. In my database from Wyscout I have included every player that is either a winger or a striker and they are from the following leagues: Eredivisie (NL), Jupiler Pro League (BE), Bundesliga (AUT), Primeira Liga (POR) & Premiership (SCO). I have selected all these leagues, as they have a similar range of quality.
There are 270 players in my database and they have been selected through their minimal amount of minutes played in the domestic league they play in. The minimum amount of minutes is 600. Normally I would pick 900 minutes as the benchmark, but since the season is still ongoing, I decided 600 was sufficient.
In the radar plot above you can see how Cody Gakpo scores in relation to the average of his peers in the leagues mentioned. He scores way above average in every single metric, except the head goals per 90 metrics. It’s fair to say that not many excel at head goals, but he hasn’t scored with his head – so that’s something he might need to work on.
So we have already seen that he does well above average, but how does he rank in the percentiles? In the image above you can see in which percentile he ranks for every attacking metric that we chose to look at it. In most of the metrics, he scores in the 80th percentile or up.
In the image above you can see a scatterplot that contains two different metrics: shots per 90 and expected goals per 90. As you can see Gakpo does very well in the volume of shots. With his 3,51 shots per 90 he sits in the 96th percentile of all players in this database.
When we look to the other metrics, the expected goals per 90, we see that he does well – he is in the Q1 quarter, but not exceptional. With his 0,41 xG per 90, he sits in the 76th percentile. That’s good, but not exceptional.
As you can see I have marked Gakpo in green, and some Ajax players in red. I wanted to illustrate how well he does against their direct rivals for the title. Only Haller is way better, but his data is quite insane this season.
In the image above you can see a shot map of Cody Gakpo in the Eredivisie so far this season. In 14 games played he had a total of 45 shots in the Eredivisie, averaging 3,2 shots per game. Of those shots, he has scored 6 goals, which is a conversion rate of 13,33% according to Opta stats. According to Wyscout, he has an xG of 5,62 from 48 shots – which means he is overperforming his expected goals slightly with +0,38.
In the image above you see how good Gakpo is in the creating of direct goalscoring. We measure this in this article as expected assists 90 vs assists per 90. In the expected assists per 90, Gakpo has 0,38 xA per and sits in the 99th percentile.
When we look at the actual assists given per 90, we see that Gakpo does extremely well. He has 0,66 assists per 90 and sits in the 99th percentile for doing so.
As you can see I have marked Gakpo in green, and some Ajax players in red. I wanted to illustrate how well he does against their direct rivals for the title. Only Tadicy is way better, but his assist data is quite unique.
In the image above I have illustrated how well Gakpo does in the expected threat (xT) metric in this season’s Eredivisie. Before I look further into this, this is what xT is:
The basic idea behind xT is to divide the pitch into a grid, with each cell assigned a probability of an action initiated there to result in a goal in the next N actions. This approach allows us to value not only parts of the pitch from which scoring directly is more likely, but also those from which an assist is most likely to happen. Actions that move the ball, such as passes and dribbles (also referred to as ball carries), can then be valued based solely on their start and end points, by taking the difference in xT between the start and end cell. In the case of Grealish, his ball carry brought a 0.013 xT increase, and the pass added a further 0.26 xT. In short, he moved the ball from a low-xT cell (0.02 xT) to a much more dangerous area of the pitch (0.32 xT). Note that the xT action value can be negative for passes and carries that move the ball away from goal. – Soccerments
In short, how much does Gakpo contribute to the expected threat of a sequence of actions towards goal? If we look at the top 10 players of this season we see that Gakpo scores 8th. When we look at the expected threats by carries, we can see that he ranks second with 1,24 xT just after Elayis Tavsan with 1,35 xT.
In the image above you see how good Gakpo is in the dribbling metrics. We measure this in this article as progressive runs per 90 vs dribbles per 90. In the progressive runs per 90, Gakpo has 2,93 progressive runs per 90 and sits in the 90th percentile.
When we look at the dribbles per 90, we see that Gakpo does extremely well. He has 8,56 dribbles per 90 and sits in the 97th percentile for doing so.
As you can see I have marked Gakpo in green, and some Ajax players in red. I wanted to illustrate how well he does against their direct rivals for the title. Only Anthony is slightly better, but Gakpo comes close to his numbers.
When we look at the data for shooting, creating and dribbling – it’s evident that Cody Gakpo is an exciting player. He scores in the highest percentile for most of the metrics, and compared to 270 of his peers, he does extremely well. The next step is to see whether he fits the profile of an attacker needed by one of the big clubs, by looking at his videos.