Looking at some of the attacking lineups of Europe’s elite teams, there are few that can match the versatility that Liverpool’s attack can boast. A unique combination of players, each with their varying skill sets, presents a lot of options for a manager. You have the world-class skill of Mohamed Salah. Diogo Jota’s intelligence on the pitch is nearly unparalleled. Darwin Nunez possesses a combination of raw speed and power. However, there is one player that seems to have been lost in the shuffle this year. That player is Cody Gakpo. He isn’t in the limelight often but is still a vital cog in Jurgen Klopp’s plans.
What is Gakpo’s Best Position?
Probably the biggest conundrum for Cody, if you would call it that, is the fact that no one can
say with absolute confidence, what his best role for the club is. Throughout the season, Klopp
has deployed him in several roles. He’s seen time as a central midfielder, center forward, left winger, and right winger. This boils down to either a tactical or injury-related reason depending on what match you want to harken back to. In my opinion, this versatility can work as both a blessing and a curse for the young Dutchman. Not nailing down a position and being a jack-of-all-trades can be beneficial while specialists are around. However, it has certainly worked against him in terms of establishing an outright starting XI spot.
Under The Radar Impact
From a statistical perspective, Gakpo is having a decent year. In 32 appearances in all competitions, he has 9 goals and 4 assists. Not breathtaking numbers by any means, but nothing to exactly laugh at either. He’s managed to contribute whether as a starter or as a substitute. This also doesn’t account for the impact he has had that doesn’t show up on the stat sheet.
In both bench appearances against Fulham in both the league and League Cup, the Dutch international’s energy was key to both victories. It certainly produces a conundrum for both Jurgen Klopp and, to an extent, the Liverpool fan base. One could easily make the case that his numbers and impact would vastly improve if he started regularly.
Given the context of Liverpool’s season, firmly in the race in four major competitions with fixtures piling up, Cody Gakpo’s value lies in his availability to be selected rather than whether or not he starts or comes off the bench, in my opinion. Obviously, there might be some frustration on Gakpo’s part. No player wants to be coming off the bench. But considering the number of games Liverpool has had and will have, he has plenty of chances to make himself undroppable.
All things considered, I truly believe his best role is as a reserve. You can have the manager diagnose any situation during a game. From there, he can put Gakpo pretty much anywhere in the front six and feel fairly confident. It’s a luxury if we’re being honest. The fact that a player that had so many suitors coming off a brilliant World Cup is not a nailed-on starter week in, and week out is remarkable.