1. How Gakpo played in PSV/National team
Cody Gakpo isn’t a typical winger. PSV used him in different positions in attack, his role was closer to left inside (left attacking midfielder) than to an out an out left winger.
PSV has rather stable formations of (4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1). The team didn’t experiment a lot with different roles and tactics, so the Gakpo’s main position was on left side of attack.
In World Cup games, Gakpo showed his versatility. He played centre-forward, attacking midfielder and left/right-winger positions. His heat map was seriously different from Eredivisie games.
Cody Gakpo stats this season in all positions (all competitions) with PSV and Netherlands NT
Left attacking midfielder/left winger – 1481 minutes, 9 goals, 9 assists (clear left winger – 504 minutes, 5 goals, 4 assists)
Centre-forward – 76 minutes, 2 assists
Attacking midfielder/centre midfielder – 243 minutes, 1 goal, 2 assists
2. How Liverpool could use Gakpo
a) Left winger/left attacking midfielder position
Gakpo does not have the same speed and aggression as Luis Diaz. But he plays a more varied role, Gakpo is effective in the centre-forward position and that could seriously help Liverpool’s attacking efficiency.
Liverpool have the possibilty to alternate positions between Cody Gakpo and Darwin Nunez, who has already showed his quality as left winger. This means the Dutch international can easily move to the centre forward position. This option Liverpool now have to interchange these players mid game will prove difficult for defences.
Liverpool now have 3 players that could play both left winger/centre-forward positions (Darwin Nunez, Cody Gakpo, Diogo Jota).
Shots outside the penalty area compared to all shots by each player (this season, all games)
Luis Diaz – 21%
Cody Gakpo – 49%
Obviously Liverpool will use Cody Gakpo as a left winger in upcoming games. But after Jota and Diaz return things can be changed.
Liverpool has a lot of options with Gakpo as left winger:
Gakpo – Nunez – Salah
Gakpo – Firmino – Salah
Gakpo – Jota – Salah
All this options can transform into the model with Gakpo as CF during the game: Jota – Gakpo – Salah; Nunez – Gakpo – Salah etc.
b) Centre-forward position
This is a real option for Gakpo. He played as CF both in Eredivisie and during the World Cup. One of the main advantages of Gakpo’s game is that he can play in multiple positions during a single match.
During his professional career Gakpo has 0.7 goal+pass per 90 minutes in the centre-forward position.
This season Gakpo didn’t start as centre-forward in the Eredivisie or the Europa League but moved to this position during 5 different games – against NEC, Utrecht, Feyenoord, Twente and Monaco (76 minutes in total, 2 assists).
With Gakpo as centre-forward Liverpool has a options also
Diaz – Gakpo – Salah
Jota – Gakpo – Salah
Diaz – Gakpo, Jota – Salah
Diaz – Gakpo, Firmino – Salah
Gakpo took 30 shots (9 goals) after he dribbled past a right back opponent and he took 27 shots after he dribbled past CB opponent (7 goals) in last calendar year (all games for PSV and Netherlands NT)
c) Attacking midfielder/second striker position
Dutch attacker played AM, LAM, RAM positions during his career. It’s rather rare but possible options. Seems that Liverpool will not use him as AM from the start but during the game it could be option to change situation in attacking zone.
Possible attacking/midfield model
Fabinho, Thiago (Henderson) – Gakpo – Diaz (Jota), Nunez (Firmino, Jota) – Salah
Full career stats per position (National team, Eredivisie, Dutch Cup, Champions League qualification, Europa League, Dutch Super Cup)
Left attacking midfielder/left winger – 9,440 minutes, 53 goals, 42 assists
Centre-forward – 1,512 minutes, 7 goals, 4 assists
Attacking midfielder/centre midfielder – 836 minutes, 4 goals, 3 assists
Right attacking midfielder/right winger – 204 minutes, 1 goal, 1 assist