Cody Gakpo has made a happy habit of turning up at big Liverpool events. So when he played against Bayern Munich in Singapore earlier this month, he wasted no time. With less than two minutes remaining in the game, Gakpo latched on to Diogo Jota’s pass and raced past Bayern’s defense to score a stunning goal.
It was further evidence of the Dutchman’s effective warm-up plan when he controlled Jota’s header in Karlsruhe’s first pre-season friendly before showing his quality midway through the second half with a shot into the top corner. , and then scored for Jota in stoppage time. Although he was excellent against Bayern and led the attack – he moved from PSV midway through last season and started 15 of his 17 Premier League starts for Bayern – – A lack of midfield options earlier this summer meant he was on the left.
And Jurgen Klopp’s continued lack of options means Gakpo will start the current top flight in a deeper position, with Jota, Mohamed Salah and Luis Diaz occupying the forward positions.
The Dutchman, who was the only midfielder to start for Liverpool last season, suffered a similar crash at home against Brentford and later featured in Klopp’s opening weekend draw against Chelsea and last weekend’s win over Bounemouth. The first player Klopp replaced in the match against Bournemouth.
The numbers show that the midfield role has limited Gakpo’s natural game. Although Liverpool’s low number of touches in both games was partly down to his early substitution, the Netherlands international impact towards the end was marred by two key passes and a miss on target. Gakpo made 50 club appearances for PSV and Liverpool last season, scoring 20 goals and providing 20 assists.
However, Sunday’s game against Newcastle United could provide the forward an opportunity to return to the attack, with new signing Wataru Endo and Stefan Bajcetic returning, starting in defensive midfield. Positional pressure will allow Alexis McAllister to move into the more advanced midfield role,That was played by Gakpo in the last two weeks.
Gakpo fondly remembers his last visit to Tyneside in February, when he started in midfield and scored the second goal in Liverpool’s 2-0 win. Darwin Nunez, who opened the scoring, started from the left.
One problem for the 24-year-old, however, is that all three starting strikers scored against Bournemouth and Jota was right at the heart
f the attack as Diaz made it 3-1. Also played a key role in scoring.
A problem for the 24-year-old, however, is that all three starting forwards scored against Bournemouth and Jota, playing down the middle of the attack, also having a key role in Diaz’s equalising in the 3-1 win.
It would be a big decision for Klopp to rotate the Portuguese out of the team.
Gakpo, then may have to wait to lead the forward line again. But it won’t be long before the Dutchman will have the chance to prove why he is regarded as Roberto Firmino’s natural false number nine replacement.