Back in the day, before in-depth stats and video analysis became available to any punter with an internet connection and £12.95 to month to spend on a subscription, the World Cup would represent the largest possible stage for players to display their talent. For athletes hailing from less heralded countries or plying their trade in leagues outside the big five in particular it could be unique in that regard.
Liverpool as a club even have history searching for talent via the World Cup, famously picking up Senegal standouts Salif Diao and El-Hadji Diouf after that country’s impressive performance in the 2002 World Cup, conveniently displaying to us the folly of this strategy given the two players turned out to be an underwhelming talent and an historic prick, respectively.
Now, of course, any player making their way to the World Cup has already been analysed to the gills by the time they exit their teens, and the chances of a footballer truly coming out of nowhere and taking the scouting world by storm at the copa mundials is next to nil.
Nevertheless, with the majority of the sport’s eyes trained on the tournament, it’s probably going to be inevitable that positive player performances are going to attract attention—and thus become good fodder for that most precious commodity, internet clicks.
As such, Cody Gakpo, already a transfer rumour favourite owing to his prolific record in the Eredivisie, has seen a rise in popularity following his performances in Qatar, where he has scored three goals in three games, notching one in each match as the Dutch have done enough to finish top of Group A.
The PSV winger has intermittently been linked with Liverpool—among many, many others—over the past few years, and on a surface level he is a target who makes some sense, what with the 23-year old being a pacy wide forward who comes inside and generates shots like a striker, which seems to perfectly match Liverpool’s preferences at the position.
Yet despite this, until now at least no concrete have materialised. Perhaps that will all change in the coming months, and if it does, as with most attackers coming out of the Dutch league, there will be questions about whether Gakpo can translate his production to the next level. At any rate, though, if the Reds do end up making a move for him, it will be the end product of years of scouting, not because of half a dozen good performances in an international tournament.