Liverpool forward Cody Gakpo has expressed his delight at his new-found position as an all-out striker. The 24-year-old Dutchman joined Liverpool from PSV in January and after a slow start, he found his form when Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp made him the focal point of the team. Gakpo scored seven goals in the second half of the Premier League season and has credited his positional change for his success.
Speaking about his new role, Gakpo said, “Now that I’m playing at Liverpool I think it’s a nice position. I have become convinced that being a striker suits me. It was a difficult period when I first arrived. He [Klopp] said what he wanted from me. In the beginning, of course, it took some getting used to, but I’ve enjoyed playing in that position in recent months.”
Although Gakpo had played as a striker for the Netherlands in the World Cup, he was more accustomed to playing on the wings in the Eredivisie. However, towards the end of the season, he became a regular in Liverpool’s starting line-up and endeared himself to the fans with his hard work.
With the departure of Roberto Firmino, Gakpo could be the long-term successor to the Brazilian, filling the false nine position that has been so influential during Klopp’s reign. Gakpo said, “Guus Hiddink was the first [to play him down the middle]. He spent a while at PSV as a sounding board, saw me play and said: “You have to become a striker or a false No 9.” But at the last World Cup, I was already more central on the field and at Liverpool permanently in the past six months. It’s been good. I’m excited now to get better in the position in the near future, for the club as well as the national team.”
Gakpo is currently on international duty with the Netherlands as they prepare to face Croatia in the Nations League semi-finals. The Oranje made the final in 2019 but lost to Portugal in a 1-0 defeat. With Gakpo’s impressive form for Liverpool, the Netherlands will be banking on him to help them go one step further this time around.