Premier League • England

Slot backed to work wonders for ‘dangerous’ Liverpool star and succeed where Klopp failed

Dirk Kuyt and Liverpool head coach Arne Slot

Dirk Kuyt and Liverpool head coach Arne Slot

Former Liverpool star Dirk Kuyt has given his verdict on current Liverpool man Cody Gakpo, explaining how Arne Slot can help the forward reach his amazing potential.

Gakpo joined Liverpool in January 2023 when the Reds paid PSV £35million for him. The versatile attacker, who can play as a winger on either flank or at centre-forward, had previously rejected offers to join both Leeds United and Southampton.

Gakpo was backed to link up with Dutch compatriot Erik ten Hag at Manchester United, but that ultimately did not happen as Liverpool swooped in and won the race for him.

The transfer was a very exciting one for Liverpool fans as Gakpo had notched an impressive 21 goals and 15 assists in 47 games for PSV during the 2021-22 season.

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Gakpo was PSV’s talisman and he even captained them in a host of games, but he has never quite been able to replicate that form in a Liverpool shirt.

Jurgen Klopp, who has now been replaced by Slot as Liverpool boss, may be frustrated as Gakpo is thriving at Euro 2024 with the Netherlands, whereas his form has been stop-start at Anfield thus far.

Indeed, Gakpo has fired his country to the Euros semi-finals with three goals and one assist, setting up a huge clash against England on Wednesday night.

Slot knows the 25-year-old well, being a compatriot of his and coming up against him in the Eredivisie previously. And Kuyt, who netted 71 goals in 285 games for Liverpool between 2006 and 2012, thinks Slot will help Gakpo thrive on Merseyside.

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“There’s a decision to be made now, for the new manager; what is his [Gakpo’s] best position for Liverpool? You can see when he’s not playing as a striker, but from the left-hand side, that he can be pretty dangerous,” Kuyt said in a recent interview.

“The fact is that Cody can play in many different positions, and the good thing about him is that he has the mentality to give his everything, regardless of where the manager puts him. But, if you’re asking me, I think he’s most dangerous when he’s playing on the left.

“I know Arne Slot, and his style of playing, and I think Cody will fit in excellently… and I’m sure he’ll be used out wide.”

Gakpo has certainly shown for the Netherlands that he is at his best when he is marauding down the left flank and cutting inside before getting a shot away at goal.

It could be argued that Gakpo’s versatility has actually been detrimental to his Liverpool spell, as it meant Klopp sometimes used him as a right winger or as a central striker when those are not his most effective positions.

Of course, Gakpo’s ability to play at left wing on a weekly basis depends on what happens with team-mate Luis Diaz. According to the latest reports, Liverpool are aiming to keep Diaz this summer, despite the Colombian picking up strong interest from Barcelona.

It will therefore be up to Gakpo to oust Diaz as Liverpool’s main left winger and start to truly live up to his price tag.

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