Cody Gakpo: Liverpool’s Biggest Loser Amidst Injury Nightmare?

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Navigating Liverpool’s Triple-Injury Crisis: Gakpo’s Challenging Adaptation

One huge positive combined with two expected negatives doesn’t balance an equation and if anything, for Cody Gakpo it could mean everything he doesn’t want. Liverpool’s season has been a rollercoaster of form and fitness, with player versatility becoming both a boon and a bane. For every question over physicality and impact of Gakpo, there’s a reality of the situation. His versatility could well count against him in a recurring situation that it may just be unfair to fully judge against.

Shifting Sands of Positional Play

Gakpo, primarily a left-winger at PSV Eindhoven, has found himself with only three starts in this position for Liverpool this season. His statistical output dips when shifted from his natural habitat on the left to other roles. This season, his deployment has varied, with 14 appearances as a centre-forward, 7 as a left-winger, and 5 on the right. From these positions, he has scored 7 goals and made 2 assists as a centre-forward, while his time on the left has yielded 1 goal and 2 assists.

Photo by IMAGO

Salah’s Return and Injury Implications

The anticipated return of Mohamed Salah poses a direct threat to Gakpo’s presence on the left wing. Salah’s preferred right wing is a non-negotiable in Klopp’s tactical book, potentially relegating Gakpo to alternative positions where he has yet to shine for Liverpool. It was clear that in Salah’s absence, Diaz, Nunez and Jota were the favoured there with Gakpo often providing the option from the bench. With injuries to Dominic Szoboszlai and Trent Alexander-Arnold, there is a temptation to fill these voids with Gakpo’s versatility on occasions, but at what cost to his effectiveness?

Understanding Gakpo’s Numbers

A closer look at Gakpo’s contribution this season paints a picture of a player with a clear preference and proficiency. His goal and assist return from the centre-forward position is respectable, yet it’s the left-wing role that historically sees him at his most lethal, a fact underscored by his decreased contribution on the right and in central midfield. It seems harsh that Gravenberch and Elliott’s limitations around physicality and the lack of success (despite the small sample size) of pushing Mac Allister further forward could all conspire against the Dutchman’s preference.

Photo: IMAGO

Tactical Conundrum for Klopp

The conundrum Klopp faces is not just about filling positions but doing so without squandering Gakpo’s potential. He’ll see the use of his intelligence across the pitch as being key to Liverpool maintaining their competitive edge and navigating the current danger ahead. As injuries force tactical reshuffles, it’s yet to really wield any great success and often when in a midfield position, you’ve come away with more questions and answers from Gakpo’s performance. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he’s used there, nor would it be if he struggles somewhat. It seems harsh again, but it could be what Gakpo ends up being judged against in the near future.

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