‘He is not a striker!’ – Netherlands hero slams Klopp for playing Gakpo in the wrong position

Jason Soutar
Netherlands winger Cody Gakpo during a warm-up for Liverpool

Former Netherlands international Rafael van der Vaart has questioned why Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is playing Cody Gakpo through the middle when he is a “left-winger”.

Gakpo bagged his first goal for the Reds on Monday evening in the 2-0 Merseyside derby win against local rivals Everton.

It was a pretty sweet game to get off the mark in and will have lifted a huge weight off the player’s shoulders.

He was signed for around £40million from PSV Eindhoven in the January transfer window having shone at club and international level in 2022.

Gakpo provided 21 goal contributions in 14 Eredivisie appearances this term and scored three in five matches at the World Cup with the Netherlands.

Despite his incredible performances prior to his move to Anfield, the 23-year-old struggled to get off the mark for his new club.

Ex-Tottenham playmaker Van der Vaart believes Gakpo’s slow start is down to Klopp playing him out of position.

Gakpo thrived for PSV playing off the left, though he did appear to be playing centrally for the Netherlands in Qatar.

Despite this, Van der Vaart insists he should be playing in his natural position for Liverpool.

“The biggest surprise for me wasn’t that Liverpool bought Cody Gakpo last month,” he told Ladbrokes.

“Look, if you have the sort of tournament he did in Qatar, you’re going to attract interest from a lot of top clubs.

“But, for me, they’ve signed a player who has played his whole career as a left-winger, and in the national team he’s played as a number 10, a second striker… and now he’s playing as a striker? He’s not a striker!

“Cody needs space to play in, he needs to run with the ball, that’s where he’s most dangerous. That’s the biggest issue he has at Liverpool.

“Why are they playing him as a number nine? He’s a left-winger who can cut inside and cause danger there.”

Gakpo will need to be consistent in front of goal if he is to keep his place in Klopp’s starting XI.

Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino both returned from injury on Monday evening and will be eager to regain their place in the team.

Liverpool take on Newcastle United at St James’ Park this weekend in a huge match.

The Reds are currently ninth in the Premier League, nine points behind fourth-placed Newcastle.

A win on Saturday would be a massive result, especially considering Liverpool have a game in hand over the Magpies.

A loss would be another bitter blow in Liverpool’s bid to qualify for the Champions League.

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