Liverpool surprised many when they announced late on Boxing Day that they had signed Cody Gakpo late from PSV Eindhoven. Until then, Manchester United were seen as the leading players in signing the Dutch striker. However, Liverpool felt they could let a player with such potential pass them.
Jurgen Klopp said: “He is a young player with great potential. “If he had scored 40 goals in Spain or whatever, it would have been unbearable. That sort of thing is all about timing, getting these players at the right time when they’re not scoring 55 goals per season and stuff like that.
“So we’re really convinced that he can take the next step, and that’s what makes him interesting. We believe in our process, when the players came here – especially offensive players – it all went one step ahead thanks to the way we worked and the way we helped them. That makes it very interesting.”
As soon as Gakpo completed his transfer to Liverpool, the discussion turned to how Anfield would fit the Dutch international into their team. Klopp already has a number of top-notch offensive options so it’s not immediately clear how Gakpo will give Liverpool a different dimension of any value.
However, Liverpool’s need for a new midfielder is clear and this raises an interesting point about the signing of Gakpo – can the 23-year-old work in this position for his new club? If Liverpool can’t take on someone like Jude Bellingham, could Gakpo be adapted to give Klopp the same qualities?
Gakpo is a distinctly modern player in that it can work in a variety of ways. The 23-year-old can play any position on the front line and can even play comfortably behind a centre-back. This is where it might be possible for Gakpo to play a slightly deeper position.
Technically, Gakpo has the ability to play the ball as a midfielder. Liverpool need someone who can get the ball to the middle of the pitch fast and the Dutch player certainly has the skills to do so. Gakpo showed how effective he was in opening the lines for the Netherlands at the 2022 World Cup.
Liverpool don’t need a new midfielder to anchor in the middle of the pitch – they already have Fabinho and Thiago Alcantara and Stefan Bajcetic has been emerging as a good squad option lately. Instead, Klopp needs an offensive-focused ball carrier who can open up space and build overloads. Gakpo ticks many boxes in many ways.