Is Cody Gakpo the Right Fit for Liverpool v2.0

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Is Cody Gakpo the Right Fit for Liverpool v2.0

Evaluating Cody Gakpo’s Role in Liverpool’s Evolution

At the initial stage of this season, there was probably a fair majority of the Liverpool fanbase who would have picked Cody Gakpo as their starting central striker ahead of any alternatives. The consensus would have been that Mohamed Salah and Luis Díaz had the wide berths on lockdown, enabling Darwin Núñez, Diogo Jota, and Cody Gakpo to fight for that last central position. As the campaign steadily progressed, so has the level of Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool v2.0. The previous year (despite the sporadic bright spots) was largely disastrous and led to a raft of players leaving in the summer as the next generation arrived to build something more vibrant and refreshed. The gradual improvement of assets seemed to explode after the festive period, with the likes of Alexis Mac Allister, Wataru Endō, and Darwin Núñez elevating into great footballing form. The solidity installed in the central midfield makes the surrounding areas more in tune with the team, as Japan and Argentina internationals revel in their newfound partnership.

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Gakpo’s Journey: From Promise to Puzzle

The more attacking players’ output has ranged from good to great so far. The stats below show how the five assets (Jayden Danns and other graduates not inclusive) have fared so far this season across all competitions.

Mohamed Salah
Total Appearances – 29 games
Total Minutes Played – 2,108
Total Goals – 19 Goals
Total Assists – 10 Assists
Minutes per goal / assist – 73 minutes
Verdict – Sensational, irreplaceable, unstoppable. A new contract must be negotiated as the Egyptian legend remains the world’s greatest in waiting.

Darwin Núñez
Total Appearances – 39 games
Total Minutes Played – 2,228
Total Goals – 16 Goals
Total Assists – 11 Assists
Minutes per goal / assist – 83 minutes
Verdict – What was once a raw and uncoordinated specimen has steadily been built into a ferocious striker, with the final clinical touches added to his infectious game. The Uruguayan may be the Premier League’s most vital central striker right now, which could enable more silverware in the warmer months.

Luis Díaz
Total Appearances – 37 games
Total Minutes Played – 2,515
Total Goals – 11 Goals
Total Assists – 5 Assists
Minutes per goal / assist – 157 minutes
Verdict – The traumatic experience that the Columbian experienced earlier in the season would have been wildly affecting. The form of the dribbling maverick before that was loose; however, as the system and its working parts have ascended, so has the perfect form of the former Porto man, who is predominantly a winger who holds the width.

Diogo Jota
Total Appearances – 28 games
Total Minutes Played – 1,575
Total Goals – 14 Goals
Total Assists – 4 Assists
Minutes per goal / assist – 88 minutes
Verdict – The irresistible goal-scoring prowess of the Portuguese forward is only tempered by his irritating and continuing poor injury record. Their contributions and match-winning performances have been sensational this year, and his return will elevate the Liverpool squad exponentially—a vital part of the attacking puzzle when available.

Cody Gakpo
Total Appearances – 39 games
Total Minutes Played – 2,204
Total Goals – 11 Goals
Total Assists – 5 Assists
Minutes per goal / assist – 138 minutes
Verdict – The fear for the Dutchman is that his position as the 5th choice forward is now under serious threat from the academy sensation, Jayden Danns. The sheer fact is that this ultra-talented 24-year-old remains unsure of his best position and is trying to be something he is not, as he continually overplays and tries to score from low XG chances. His best game is as a connector and facilitator, which may not be what this regenerated side needs as a starting asset.

How Can Cody Push His Way into the First Team Elite…?

I understand that the former PSV forward is trying to be something more like his lung-busting teammate, Darwin Núñez, as he strives to create chaos and be more physical on the ball. The physicality issue is something I want to see more of; however, he has neither the style nor the determination to be what Darwin is. Instead of reinventing himself, the gifted attacker should create something cleverer and more workmanlike. Last season was a perfect introduction for the 6ft 4inch Dutch international, as a January signing engineered to replace the outgoing Bobby Firmino. It should be that former legend he must attempt to replicate, which resonates with his elite showings last season. The intelligent work rate and intricate off-ball positional play were among the few highlights of the Reds 2022/23 campaign. The match-winning two goals in the 7-0 demolition of Manchester United show the type of player he can become rather than force himself away from what comes naturally. Instead of trying to force him to be a prolific and explosive striker, I hope that he works to become the central cog that can bring the surrounding pieces together through pressing and intelligent interplay.

Every player is auditioning for the next manager, especially Cody Gakpo, which means these next few months could be pivotal to whether he stays or goes.

Steven Smith

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