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Firmino’s replacement, Núñez’s partner or Salah’s provider?



Firmino's replacement, Núñez's partner or Salah's provider?

Cody Gakpo is probably THE winter transfer from Liverpool – but how does he fit into the Reds system?

Liverpool’s January shopping appears to be in full swing. Following the 3-1 win at Aston Villa at Christmas, there was more good news for Reds fans as it was announced that PSV Eindhoven had agreed to sign Dutch international striker Cody Gakpo.

Formalities have yet to be settled but Gakpo is on his way to Anfield for his medical and the transfer is expected to be completed by the official opening of the transfer window on January 1. The transfer fee should initially amount to 45 million euros and can increase to up to 53 million euros with bonuses.

The coup is a setback for Manchester United – the Red Devils had led the race for the 23-year-old. But Gakpo is a key boost for Jurgen Klopp, who was looking for reinforcements following the injuries to Luis Diaz and Diogo Jota.

SPOX analyzes how the Dutchman could be used at Anfield.

Gakpo before moving to Liverpool: That distinguishes the offensive star

Cody Gakpo in the storm center

Gakpo’s strengths are obvious: he scores goals and he creates them. And that makes him an obvious candidate for the center forward role.

His record for PSV this season is nothing short of spectacular, with 12 goals and 14 assists in 19 games in the Eredivisie and Europa League. He continued his form at the World Cup in Qatar, scoring three goals as the Netherlands reached the quarter-finals.

Sure, Gakpo is not a classic number 9, but that could suit Liverpool FC. After all, the Reds have been used to a “false nine” for years with Roberto Firmino.

Gakpo is not Firmino, but he has the ability to go deep. This would benefit players like Mohamed Salah and Darwin Núñez, who play wide but can always create a goal threat in the middle.

Possible line-up (4-3-3): Alisson – Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson – Henderson, Fabinho, Thiago – Salah, Gakpo, Núñez

Cody Gakpo on the left wing

Gakpo has spent most of his career at Eindhoven as a winger. He would also be able to master this role at Liverpool, after all, after the injuries to Diogo Jota and Luis Diaz, there is a lot of demand on the wing at the LFC.

Gakpo may not be lightning fast, but his right-footed approach would suit Andy Robertson, who likes to go forward from left-back.

Gakpo’s positional play has improved significantly over the past 12 months. He has worked with his personal tactics coach, Loran Vrielink, to improve his awareness and off-the-ball skills. He’s also improved physically and should be able to handle the rigors of the Premier League and Liverpool’s high-intensity pressing.

His goalscoring prowess makes him a far more natural option in an attacking back three than, say, Fabio Carvalho, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain or Curtis Jones.

Possible line-up (4-3-3): Alisson – Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson – Henderson, Fabinho, Thiago – Salah, Núñez, Gakpo

Cody Gakpo on the ten

How about a system change? Liverpool have experimented with a 4-4-2/4-2-3-1 formation at times this season and given the doubts surrounding the structure and solidity of the midfield, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if Klopp’s side do so again would as soon as Gakpo steps out in the Reds shirt.

At the World Cup, he felt very comfortable as number 10 in the Dutch national team, especially when playing for Memphis Depay. His ability to set up that crucial last ball, be it a pass or a shot, would add an extra dimension to Klopp should he decide to go with a four-offensive system.

It’s not hard to imagine Gakpo playing behind Núñez or Salah or even Firmino in games Liverpool aim to dominate.

Possible line-up (4-2-3-1): Alisson – Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson – Thiago, Fabinho – Salah, Gakpo, Núñez – Firmino

Cody Gakpo’s long-term role

Looking ahead, it will be exciting to see Klopp juggle his attacking wealth.

Gakpo’s signing certainly raises doubts about Firmino’s future. The Brazilian’s contract expires in the summer and while a contract extension cannot be ruled out, Liverpool are unlikely to have six top-class, experienced strikers in their squad. For the same reason, it is almost certain that Oxlade-Chamberlain will be able to leave on a free transfer at the end of the season.

Klopp hopes he is prepared for any eventuality. Salah’s relentless brilliance and consistency, Diaz’s directness and energy, Jota’s pressing and box power, Núñez’s presence, unpredictability and ability to charge from behind, and now Gakpo’s creativity and scoring prowess. In addition, the potential of Fabio Carvalho, 20, and teenagers Kaide Gordon and Ben Doak is huge.

So all in all, exciting times for Liverpool. Now only the midfield needs to be rebuilt…