Cody Gakpo has had an interesting 10 months in Red. Transferring over to Liverpool after a scintillating performance on behalf of the Dutch National Team in the World Cup Winter Edition, Gakpo has seen himself be drafted in a few different positions during his time on Merseyside.
Nominally a winger, Gakpo’s transfer to Liverpool was interesting in that he followed Diogo Jota, Luis Diaz, and Darwin Nuñez in joining as player known to ply their trade on the left-attacking position. Knowing how much Klopp loves positional flexibility, it maybe shouldn’t have been a surprise that he’d push for this move, but it still certainly drew a raised eyebrow from some, including myself.
After seeing Gakpo deployed as striker, midfielder, and winger, all in varying roles such as a False 9 or playmaker, I think not only has it generally worked out, it’s been a joy to watch the young Dutchman eagerly embrace their shifting roles on the team. Ahead of Thursday’s Europa League match, he took a moment at the pre-match press conference to address his role as a sort of footballing multi-hyphenate:
“Obviously I’ve played in a few different positions - striker, midfield and left wing. I think I can do better, obviously. You want to do better every day and become a better player all the time. Last season I played almost every game as a striker. This season, [I have played] as a striker or a midfielder. I just focus on those two positions really, and then just show what I can do and try to be the best player I can be.”
Watching Cody take up different places on the pitch, stretch defenses as he pulls defenders into different areas, and provide his partners in attack with opportunities to move into dangerous places has been one of things I’ve enjoyed most. He reminds me, both in terms of positional flexibility and eagerness to help in whatever capacity, of Roberto Firmino. Here’s hoping he can add more attacking threat and playmaking as he grows into our own Dutch Army Knife.