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Liverpool just replaced Sadio Mane in a way no one expected



Four things to see in Liverpool v Everton as Cody Gakpo kept his word and Jurgen Klopp got it right

Liverpool have struggled since the departure of Sadio Mane in the summer but may now have found his replacement

Four things to see in Liverpool v Everton as Cody Gakpo kept his word and Jurgen Klopp got it right

Frankly, Cody Gakpo has left more questions than answers since he arrived at Liverpool last month.

Why did the Reds choose to spend £37m on him rather than switch to a much needed midfielder? Why did they bring in another left forward when they already have Luis Diaz, Diogo Jota and Darwin Nunez? And why, having initially spent £64m last summer on the Uruguayan, a traditional number nine, are they now playing him wide with the Dutch full-back instead at centre-forward?

Each decision has caused headaches, with Liverpool’s form, coupled with the striker’s limited impact during his first few weeks in Merseyside resulting in even more raised eyebrows. Jurgen Klopp admittedly warned Kopites that the 23-year-old would not repeat Diaz’s immediate impact at Anfield 12 months earlier as Gakpo eventually joined Liverpool at a much more difficult time than the Colombian. That didn’t stop the German from praising his new striker’s finishing skills shortly after signing the Dutch international.

Unfortunately, as the Reds’ form deteriorated following Gakpo’s arrival, Kopites saw little evidence to back up such a claim. After all, Liverpool have scored just four goals in their first six games, two on their debut against Wolves in the FA Cup and another victory at Molineux, their only taste of victory.

In those half-dozen clashes, the 23-year-old naturally had minimal impact, unable to return a goal or provide an assist. Of 13 shots in those six games, only four were on target, while seven of them were taken in one game – in the 0-0 draw with Chelsea.

Four things to see in Liverpool v Everton as Cody Gakpo kept his word and Jurgen Klopp got it right

To make the lack of stability even worse, he was expected on the left flank with Nunez in the middle and Mohamed Salah on the right on his debut against Wolves, but was alongside the Egyptian in the 3-0 loss at home. ‘outside. at Brighton before starting as a central striker between Harvey Elliott and Fabio Carvalho in the FA Cup replay against the West Midlands side.

Gakpo would remain a central striker against Chelsea on Salah’s return, with Elliott moving down the left flank and that trio then remaining in place for Brighton’s FA Cup elimination. He was then back on the left flank for his third meeting for Wolves as Nunez returned to the starting XI on a central berth. No wonder he was struggling for pace and fans kept questioning the wisdom behind signing the Dutchman and using Klopp on him. But when he opens his account for the seventh time following Monday’s Merseyside derby win over Everton, the striker may belatedly offer answers.


The Dutch international faced another job change and returned to a central role by swapping positions with Nunez. But instead of any of the three lone figures being lost in attack, this time things started to look up for Liverpool and for Gakpo. For the first time, Kopites could see the method in the madness.

With two shots against the Blues to take his all-time high to 15 since arriving on Merseyside, he would register at least his second Premier League shot on goal against Everton. A simple touch at the far post with a gaping goal, won’t mark an easier attempt of his career.

The relief on Gakpo’s face was evident, and not just because in the first half he had sent a fine header wide as the fans shouted: “Here we go again.” The goal clearly boosted the Dutchman’s confidence as he continued to grow in influence and he started to show fans why the Reds brought him in.

When asked why Liverpool had signed the striker, Carragher bemoaned the apparent lack of lightning pace and ability to command the striker’s high press. However, both traits were evident against Everton as he ran past and shut down defenders, while also looking sharp as he reached deep to connect play and deflect challenges. Historically, the Dutchman is a left forward. His favorite position is clearly on the flank and while he can play up front or on the right, most of his best football for PSV Eindhoven and the Netherlands comes from the left.

It made using Klopp even more confusing, hacking and changing with forward one moment and midfield the next. Turning forward, he was initially missing an injured Nunez, who at the time thought he was a reluctant stopgap. Still, he has remained in such a role with the Uruguayan since returning to full fitness, rather than on the left flank for the majority. He seemed lost in the middle at first and was accused of falling too low and not getting involved enough. Why did Liverpool use a fast winger like this, when their traditional number nine and bringer of chaos, Nunez, cushioned such a move by moving to the left? You wouldn’t see Erling Haaland operating as a wide forward for Man City however.

But maybe Carragher was out of his mind. Gakpo may not boast the electric pace of Nunez, who would demonstrate such ability to devastating effect in setting up Salah’s lead against Everton. He’s by no means slow, but his arrival may have given Liverpool a second thought.

With Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti accusing the Reds of being predictable in last year’s Champions League final, signing Nunez was seen as a way to counter such an accusation, as Liverpool were returning to playing an outright striker for the Reds for the first time under Klopp’s reign. .