The Arne Slot era at Liverpool is officially underway. Our new gaffer finally gave his first interview in a recent feature with LFCTV last week. Obviously, despite this insight into the Dutchman’s personality and approach, there are still quite a few questions to ponder coming into next season, despite Jurgen Klopp leaving the club in the best possible position for the next era of Liverpool history. Chief among these are questions involving our attacking unit. The left wing position was a point of conversation towards the end of last season. Cody Gakpo played that role exceptionally. Despite some inconsistencies throughout the season, Luis Diaz is always a live-wire threat. He provides the Liverpool team with an unpredictable edge that can prove the difference between three points or disappointment. These questions present Slot with a conundrum, but certainly a healthy one, if both players are at their best.

READ MORE: Jurgen Klopp: What He Meant To Me by John Carl Bolido
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The Gakpo Argument

If you haven’t tuned into the Dutch national team and their recent performances in Euro 2024, then it’s been more of the same, performance-wise, from Cody Gakpo. The forward ended the 2023/24 campaign as one of Liverpool’s best players. Many wondered what his best position was throughout his career with the Reds. Jurgen Klopp played him as a false-nine, left wing, right wing, attacking midfielder, and even a central midfielder at points.

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There have been varying levels of success wherever Gakpo would be deployed. However, it showcased his versatility that Klopp could trust him to play these roles and deliver solid performances. Whether Arne Slot sees Gakpo as the multi-faceted Swiss army knife remains to be seen. Even Klopp realized that the Dutch international fares far better on the left side throughout the end of last year.

Some might argue that Gakpo’s string of great performances was a purple patch more than anything else, especially since it came at a time when Liverpool’s title challenge unraveled. That being said, it wouldn’t be fair to place that drop in form solely on Gakpo. Playing him in his historically favored position is something to consider, especially as Arne Slot looks to find his ideal combinations early on.

The Case For Luis Diaz

If we’re talking about the ideal left wing in Jurgen Klopp’s system, Luis Diaz is second only to Sadio Mane when it comes to desirable qualities for the position. His combination of raw speed, unpredictability and hustle have served Liverpool well over the years despite there being noticeable room for improvement in his overall game. Whether or not Liverpool fans see him as the long-term holder of the left wing position is a question that Arne Slot will certainly have on his mind throughout multiple points next season.

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Diaz’s numbers don’t exactly fly off the paper. The Colombian put forth 13 goals and 5 assists in 51 games last season. These highlight the aforementioned improvements needed to his game, and it would be safe to say that Sadio Mane’s play from 2016 through 2022 remains the benchmark for the position. Although for Diaz, the departure of Klopp might entail a new set of expectations and some tactical shifts in his role, which remains an interesting proposition for Liverpool fans throughout next season.

The Verdict On The Wing

Overall, both players display notable strengths and weaknesses that Arne Slot can accentuate and hide accordingly. The most politically correct answer would be to give both a run of games to gauge their worthiness for a starting role. Next season is a sort of “free hit” in terms of getting the team more accustomed to a new manager and set of tactics. There’s no better opportunity for Gakpo or Diaz to stake their claim for the position.

That being said, I think Gakpo deserves a chance to shine in his preferred position. Given the momentum carried from the end of last season and possibly from a successful Euro 2024 campaign, it seems only fair. The 25-year-old has the potential to be our long-term solution for the position if given the chance.

Floppy disks to entering in code on a Spectrum 48K… Clearly not a lot going on in the transfer market for Liverpool at the moment
  1. Floppy Disk
  2. What's Next?
  3. What Would Klopp Do?
  4. July 1st Fireworks
  5. The C Word
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