MATCHDAY PROGRAMME

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, December 20, 2023: Liverpool's Cody Gakpo celebrates after scoring the third goal during the Football League Cup Quarter-Final match between Liverpool FC and West Ham United FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Cody Gakpo is becoming the under-the-radar key man for Liverpool 2.0

It summed up Cody Gakpo‘s standing among Liverpool supporters that, after his goal completed a thrilling turnaround against Fulham, it was Darwin Nunez‘s name sung by the Kop.

In fairness, the Uruguayan had provided the assist for that strike as part of a brilliant cameo that swung the game in the hosts’ favour.

Still, it is rather unusual to hear the provider’s name echo around Anfield in the aftermath of such a crucial goal.

That it did owes much to Kopites’ desperate desire to see Nunez succeed despite occasionally unfair external scrutiny relating to his lofty price tag.

However, it also says a lot about how Gakpo continues to go under the radar as a key man of Jurgen Klopp‘s Liverpool 2.0.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, January 10, 2024: Liverpool's Cody Gakpo applauds the supporters after the Football League Cup Semi-Final 1st Leg match between Liverpool FC and Fulham FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 2-1. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Netherlands international has now scored in all four rounds of the Reds’ Carabao Cup run to put them on the cusp of a Wembley final.

It is an achievement that has earned him comparisons with Takumi Minamino, who was the club’s top scorer in both that tournament and the FA Cup as a domestic double was sealed in 2021/22.

But while those similarities are being pointed out as a compliment, Gakpo’s form this season shows that he deserves to be regarded as so much more than just a cup specialist.

After Wednesday’s strike, his record this term now reads nine goals and three assists across 27 appearances in all competitions, despite just 16 of those having come as a starter.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, January 10, 2024: Liverpool's Cody Gakpo (L) celebrates with team-mates after scoring the second goal during the Football League Cup Semi-Final 1st Leg match between Liverpool FC and Fulham FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

That adds up to a goal contribution every 119 minutes, a stat that is made all the more impressive by the fact that he has frequently been used in midfield.

Liverpool insiders cited the player’s “multi-functional” nature as a key factor in his arrival last January, and he has certainly lived up to that tag in also appearing as a false nine, left winger and, in the second half against Fulham, on the right.

But it would be fair to say that, for the player himself, this versatility can sometimes be a curse, with constant changes of position making it more difficult to find consistency.

Fortunately for Klopp, each different role is always taken up without a hint of complaint, which speaks to a maturity and character that saw Gakpo captain PSV Eindhoven at the age of 23.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, December 20, 2023: Liverpool's Curtis Jones (L) celebrates with team-mate Cody Gakpo after scoring the second goal, the club's 500th in the competition. during the Football League Cup Quarter-Final match between Liverpool FC and West Ham United FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

And it should not be forgotten that the forward is still only 24 years old, even if his impressive physical stature and the intelligence with which he plays the game belie that number.

That is, in fact, arguably the most exciting aspect of the overall package he offers: that there is still plenty more to come under a coach who is unrivalled in terms of developing attacking players.

Should Gakpo continue to fulfil his immense potential in the years ahead, then perhaps he will also finally start to get the recognition he deserves.