Cody Gakpo has chance to become Liverpool's most important player amid Diogo Jota absence

It has been a bit of a strange season for Cody Gakpo. 

Though he impressed during his debut campaign with the Reds as a false nine, a lot of his minutes this season have come in midfield. Not just any midfield role either, but a key one for Liverpool. Gakpo filled in for Curtis Jones as the counterweight and it didn’t necessarily play to his strengths. He wasn’t poor in that role, he just wasn’t what was needed. 

He was ahead of Darwin Nuñez in the pecking order to begin with but after the No. 9 changed the game off of the bench against Newcastle United, the Dutchman has seen his minutes take a hit and he’s been utilised as more of a squad player. He’s still getting minutes but these are coming primarily in cup competitions. 

The former PSV forward was named as the centre-forward for the Europa League tie against LASK and he impressed. Gakpo scored twice, won the penalty and created two chances in the 4-0 win for the Reds. It was an empathic showing by the No18 and it couldn’t have come at a better time.  

READ MORE: Liverpool 4-0 LASK – Player Ratings

With Diogo Jota ruled out for a while after picking up a hamstring injury in the draw with Manchester City, Gakpo is going to have much more of an important role for Jurgen Klopp over the coming weeks. Especially with the games coming thick and fast over the festive period.

Gakpo’s versatility means he can fill in on the left side of the attack as well as leading the line, just as he did on Thursday night. There’s also the option to use him in midfield, although that doesn’t seem likely with the attack lacking depth following the injury to the Portuguese forward. 

His showing at Anfield against the Austrian side saw him nominated for the Europa League player of the week. It should be a real confidence boost for the Netherlands international. The double against LASK takes his tally to six goals for the season in just 835 minutes across all competitions. It is a healthy return for a player who has essentially been homeless this season. 

There’s every chance he becomes Klopp’s most important player over the next month or so. That doesn’t mean he will be the best player for Liverpool. But with the German tactician needing to keep players fresh, a confident Gakpo gives him a number of options. 

What I mean by that is, Gakpo can play in place and alongside Darwin. After all, they struck up a bit of an understanding last season after the 21-cap international arrived in January. Similarly, he can play with Diaz and also in place of him. While he might not have many minutes alongside the Colombian, the front three certainly clicked against LASK. 

Cody Gakpo, Liverpool vs LASK - Propaganda

Cody Gakpo, Liverpool vs LASK - Propaganda

Gakpo is, on paper at least, the perfect fourth-choice attacker for this time of year. 

What went a little under the radar in the Europa League on Thursday evening was the fact he had six shots. That is Darwin territory in terms of output. He finished with an Expected Goals total of 1.43, per FotMob.

Again, those are the sort of numbers the chaotic No. 9 posts. Yet other parts of his game didn’t suffer. For example, he still found a teammate with 88% of his passes. He still managed to link play and create chances, a backed up by his Expected Assists total of 0.28. 

The Dutchman showed he can be a poacher - tapping the ball home for his first - while also reminding everyone that he is a capable finisher from difficult angles with his second of the game. 

Off the ball, his performance was just as impressive. He won 100% of his tackles, came out on top in four of his six ground duels and two of his three aerial duels. 

You could make the argument that it was his most important performance for the Reds, at least this season anyway. It was vital to see a reaction from him. He needed to stake his claim following Jota’s injury and he did just that. 

Share This Article