Liverpool face a major Champions League dilemma that could block them from signing any new players in the January window.
The Reds signed Gakpo from PSV Eindhoven at the start of the January transfer window, in a deal that could rise to £44million. The 23-year-old, whose contract will run until the summer of 2028, arrived following an impressive World Cup in which he scored three goals as he helped the Netherlands to the quarter-finals.
However, Gakpo has joined a club in disarray. Off the pitch club owners, Fenway Sports Group, are exploring the prospect of selling the Merseyside club, while director of football Michael Edwards is departing at the end of the season.
Meanwhile, on the pitch Liverpool languish in ninth place in the Premier League, some 19 points adrift of leaders Arsenal having played 18 games.
The club have been linked with several players that would rejuvenate their midfield, including Brighton’s Moises Caicedo, Benfica’s Enzo Fernandez and England star Jude Bellingham.
However, they would have a major dilemma registering any new arrivals for the Champions League knock-out stages.
Liverpool’s Champions League squad dilemma
Liverpool only llsted a 24-man squad for the group stage of the Champions League as they didn’t have enough homegrown players to be eligible. Notably, Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were not among the 24, having been injured at the time.
In turn, Jack Lusby, of ThisisAnfield, noted that it would be difficult for the club to sign and register any midfielders without “wasting resources.”
Lusby explained in a series of Tweets: ““Liverpool had 24 players registered for the group stage, but that final spot would need to be ‘club-trained’.
“In other words, any new signing would need to replace a player already in the squad (Keita and Ox already need to be registered).
“As an aside, players on ‘List B’ (U21s) in the Champions League need to have been playing for the club for an uninterrupted 2+ years since their 15th birthday before eligibility.
“So Moises Caicedo would obviously not qualify.
“Unless a player like Keita is sold this month, it’s hard to make room without wasting resources.
“Selling Keita wouldn’t even solve the problem in the Champions League; selling Nat Phillips would cause more problems in the Premier League.
“There is no option to cut short Arthur’s loan deal, either.
“Obviously he can be omitted from the Champions League squad for the knockout stages, and potentially will be along with Luis Diaz.
“I don’t envy whoever is in charge of all the admin with registering squads, but it’s obviously not as simple as ‘we need a midfielder, sign a midfielder’ – sadly.”
Furthermore, if Gakpo is to be included in the squad, as expected, a player from the group-stage squad will need to be removed, while Oxlade-Chamberlain and Keita would also be forced to miss out.
Lusby said: “Cody Gakpo will need to be registered for the Champions League, too.
“Will almost certainly take Luis Diaz’s spot. Can’t see Diaz playing a major role between now and the end of the season.”