Cody Gakpo has experience playing multiple positions for Liverpool and frequently played the deep position for Brighton.
No matter how much money a transfer signing cost, it is not simple for them to create an immediate effect at their new team. Only 13 players have scored on their first game for the Reds since the beginning of the millennium, but four players have done so under Jurgen Klopp’s watch at Liverpool. It is not a simple task.
However, it is essential to make sure that a scoreless start does not stretch on for too long, as Peter Crouch learned the hard way in 2005. Cody Gakpo, Liverpool’s newest signing, has played for the club five times but has not yet scored a goal or assisted on another player’s goal.
To be fair to the Netherlands international player, there have been few moments in recent years when it has been more difficult to play for the club. In no way can it be said that Gakpo has been added to a well-oiled machine that plays football.
In his five starts, he has participated in a variety of ᴏғғᴇɴsɪᴠᴇ formations, roles, and teammate combinations. It will be more appropriate to question Gakpo’s production after he has spent a greater amount of time in the front line alongside players such as Luis Diaz and Diogo Jota rather than Fabio Carvalho and Ben Doak.
After making his debut on the left side of a 4-3-3 formation against Wolves, Jurgen Klopp made the unwise decision to convert to a 4-1-2-1-2 formation for the ᴅɪsᴀsᴛʀᴏᴜs match against Brighton. After that, the Reds went back to their tried-and-true formation for the subsequent three matches, with the exception that Gakpo took up a center position in the forward line.
Even if average positions shouldn’t be taken too seriously, it’s fascinating to see where Liverpool’s new number 18 has come from and how they got there. Gakpo moved both forward and to the right during each of his first four matches with the club. This allowed him to take up a position that was more advantageous to the team.
However, during the FA Cup match that took place at the Amex Stadium, the 23-year-old player was stationed much further back and formed a compact triangle with Thiago Alcantara and Stefan Bajcetic in the middle of the field. According to Transfermarkt, Gakpo has spent 79 percent of his career playing on the left wing, so it’s unlikely that he anticipated playing on the opposite side when he joined Liverpool.
Average positions are what they are but Cody Gakpo (#18) has seen plenty of variety in his five appearances for Liverpool.
Or perhaps he did. Klopp has a track record of using players in a manner that is distinct from how they were utilized in the past. The best example of this is the transition of Gini Wijnaldum from an attacking midfielder into a deeper-lying possession monster under Klopp’s tutelage.
It is quite unlikely that anyone was unaware of the ғᴀᴄᴛ that the Reds did not really have a requirement for Gakpo. Although he is exceptionally gifted, the team does not lack personnel to fill out the left side of their front three. It is possible that Liverpool will make a permanent formation change in the near future; for example, a 4-2-3-1 requires fewer midfielders than other formations do. Alternatively, the former PSV Eindhoven player could be in the running to take the place of a club great.
Roberto Firmino’s current contract will expire in the summer, and regardless of whether the Reds choose to keep him or not, he will turn 32 in October, which means that his greatest days are almost certainly behind him. It won’t be easy to find someone who can fill such an important and rather unusual role in the team.
Earlier in the season, the Brazilian’s average position at Old Trafford was very similar to that of Gakpo’s past weekend. Because Liverpool has lost both games by a score of 2-1 and has not played very well in any of them, it is premature to conclude that playing with the center forward positioned so deep has been successful for the team. However, it is possible that this is what Klopp has in mind for the long term, with the runners from the middle being charged with getting into the penalty box.
The final third possession regain statistics for Firmino and Gakpo (via Fotmob) imply that the latter might be able to replace the former, since they have both hovered around the 1.0 per 90 mark for many years. This suggests that Gakpo could be a suitable replacement for Firmino. When it comes to originality, the Dutchman has not yet demonstrated that he is capable of taking over.
Gakpo tallied 45 goals and assisted on 44 others while playing for PSV. It seemed anticipated that he would have outputs that were comparable to his averages, which were 2.94 shots and 2.88 critical passes per ninety minutes. He has had 13 shots on goal in England, but he hasn’t generated a single chance for his team. There is a glaring need for that to shift.
At Brighton, it was so close to happening. Gakpo was given the ball close to the half way line not long after the equalizer had been scored. He took it forward and then sent a beautiful through ball right into Harvey Elliott’s path. The young player’s initial touch was outstanding, but unfortunately, a weak second touch meant that the opportunity was wasted.
It showed what Gakpo is capable of doing from deeper positions, as did a similar run in the second half, which only came to an end when Lewis Dunk hauled him back. Both of these runs occurred in the second half. Even while it will be exciting when Liverpool’s newest player scores his first goal for the club, those moments against Brighton may have given a clearer picture of his potential role with the club in the future.