Football News

Is Euro 2024 showing why Liverpool must reverse Klopp’s Cody Gakpo policy?

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 13:20, 3 July 2024

Daniel Sturridge believes Liverpool must find a way to help Cody Gakpo replicate his performance for the Netherlands.

Heading into the quarter-finals of Euro 2024, Gakpo is tied as the top scorer with three goals and has created significant history along the way.

An ever-present under Ronald Koeman in Germany the forward became just the third Dutch player to score three or more goals at two different major tournaments, along with Johnny Rep (1974 & 1978 World Cups) and Dennis Bergkamp (Euro 1992, World Cups in 1994 & 1998).

Furthermore, since Koeman returned as Oranje’s manager in 2023, he’s been directly involved in more goals in all competitions than any other national player (nine – six goals and three assists). His four direct involvements at Euro 2024 are the most in a single edition of the European Championship for the Netherlands since Wesley Sneijder (five – two goals and three assists) in 2008.

His player-of-the-match performance against Romania made him the third Dutch player to score and assist in the same Euros knockout stages game, the first since Frank Rijkaard v Denmark in the Euro 1992 semi-finals.

Among European players, only Kylian Mbappé (nine in ten games) has scored more goals across the last two major tournaments (2022 World Cup, Euro 2024) than Cody Gakpo (six in nine games).

Understandably, Liverpool supporters have raised eyebrows while watching Gakpo shine for his national team, considering his inconsistent performances in a Reds jersey.

“Gakpo is a different player for Netherlands man. Gotta get the best out of him at LFC,” former Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

The mood around Gakpo is a sharp contrast to earlier this year following Liverpool’s exiit from the FA Cup against eventual winners Manchester United.

“Gakpo plays like the game is in slow motion,” the former Reds captain Jamie Carragher posted on X, formerly Twitter, after the club’s FA Cup exit to Manchester United earlier his year.

During his 43 minutes on the Old Trafford pitch (including extra time), Gakpo registered one blocked shot and was dispossessed twice.

Not the first name on Jürgen Klopp’s team sheet when all his attacking options were present, Gakpo made 53 appearances in all competitions last season, netting 16 goals while creating six more.

Capable of playing across the forward line, Gakpo has been featured in four different roles, most commonly as a centre-forward. However, it’s been documented that the Eindhoven native is perhaps more comfortable cutting inside from the left flank, where he excelled for the Dutch at Euro 2020.

“Not many players could receive the ball and make a defender s*** their pants. Gakpo is one of them,” former Dutch international Rafael van der Vaart said on Dutch broadcaster NOS.

Gakpo had alternated with Darwin Núñez, thriving at the Copa América with Uruguay, and Diogo Jota as centre-forward options. While being utilised as a false nine, Gakpo would be tasked with dropping into the space between Liverpool’s midfield and forward lines.

It was leading Klopp’s attack, where Gakpo was predominantly featured last season (1,004 minutes), while he only spent 293 minutes on his favoured left flank.

With his struggles well-documented, Gakpo was asked following Oranje’s win over Romania about his difficult spell at Anfield.

“Those moments are normal for a player, it’s not always going very well and going the way you like,” he said.

“Sometimes you have a spell [where] things don’t go your way but, to be honest, I have a great team at Liverpool, great people that always are there for me and for everybody when you have those moments. They kept believing in me, kept helping me with everything.

“I think the last, I don’t how many, games of the season at the club I played also good games. I just took that with me and kept working very hard. I’m very happy that I can be of value for the team.”