ZEIST, NETHERLANDS - Monday, June 13, 2022: Netherlands' head coach Louis Van Gaal (L) and Cody Gakpo during a training session at the KNVB Campus ahead of the UEFA Nations League Group A4 game between the Netherlands and Wales. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

How Louis van Gaal predicted Cody Gakpo’s surprise Liverpool role

Cody Gakpo has been deployed in a slightly unfamiliar role in some of the matches he’s played since joining Liverpool, but that won’t have come as a surprise to former Netherlands manager Louis van Gaal.

The PSV academy graduate came through the ranks as a left winger, scoring nine goals and registering 12 assists from that position this season before joining Liverpool in the January transfer window.

However, with the likes of Roberto Firmino, Diogo Jota and Darwin Nunez all spending time in the treatment room since Gakpo’s arrival, Jurgen Klopp has used Gakpo as a striker in several games since his arrival at the club.

In Liverpool’s most recent match, a 3-0 defeat away at Wolves, Gakpo was back on the left wing, with Nunez leading the line, but the Dutchman says he has enjoyed getting to know a new position.

He’s also revealed that Van Gaal, his national team manager at the World Cup, has predicted that he will “end up in the middle” in the long run, having used Gakpo in a central role in Qatar.

“I am somebody with a direct style of playing, a hard worker and a winner,” he told the club’s Walk On e-magazine.

WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Saturday, February 4, 2023: Liverpool's Cody Gakpo lines-up before the FA Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers FC and Liverpool FC at Molineux Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“I’m an attacking player who can dribble, score and make assists. This is also what I have to improve and keep working hard on so I can help the team as much as I can.

“It’s a good asset to have that I can play in multiple positions, but in the end I think every player has one position that he likes the most and maybe that is where the player is at his best.

“At the moment for me, I like to play on the left wing because I played there for four years so that is what I am used to, but maybe I will develop better in another position and then play there.

“I played in the middle in the FA Cup at Wolves and against Chelsea. I like it. It’s more in the centre of the goal. I’m not that used to it so I have to develop in that position.

“I don’t know if I will end up there, but Louis van Gaal told me I will end up in the middle so maybe I will.

“I had another style of playing back in Holland so in terms of putting pressure and running back I’m learning about that. I’m learning a lot and I’m eager to learn even more, so I’m really enjoying it.”

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Monday, August 21, 2017: Everton's manager Ronald Koeman before the FA Premier League match between Manchester City and Everton at the City of Manchester Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Ronald Koeman, who took over from Van Gaal as Netherlands boss after the World Cup, has also been speaking about Gakpo’s start to life in the Premier League.

The 23-year-old is still awaiting his first Liverpool goal and, despite showing glimpses of his quality, has found it difficult to settle in to a team in turmoil in recent weeks.

“He has ended up in a team that is not doing well,” Koeman said in a YouTube show hosted by former Everton winger Andy van der Meyde.

“If you don’t score or you’re not important and you don’t win any matches, it’s very difficult, especially for a young player.

“If that was someone aged 28, with experience, it would be different.”