Thriving at Euro 2024 – Netherlands Shows Liverpool How Good is Cody Gakpo

On Wednesday night Gareth Southgate’s England side will take to the field with high hopes of reaching a second, successive Euros final. But standing in their way will be a Netherlands side that has somewhat overcome the odds and quieted the doubters on their run to the latter stages of the competition. And at the heart of that impressive run is none other than Liverpool and Premier League star Cody Gakpo.

Netherlands Shows Liverpool How Good is Cody Gakpo

Indeed, while England has struggled to beat Slovakia and Switzerland in the knock-out rounds of the competition, Ronald Koeman’s side has had to get beyond difficult opponents in the form of Romania and Turkiye. And that was after getting through a group with even tougher foes in Austria and France. That success to date has been built on a direct, attacking system that has managed to get the best out of the Dutch side’s abundance of attacking talent, and with three goals and an assist to his name in just six games, few players deserve more credit than Gakpo. But, intriguingly enough, how the 25-year-old talent has been playing his football for his nation is slightly different from what Premier League fans are used to.

Gakpo thriving on the wing for the Netherlands

While Gakpo has been played predominantly through the middle since he made the move to Liverpool in January 2023 for €42 million, Koeman has instead elected to move the forward back out to the left wing and it has worked wonders. Although his opening goal of the tournament against Poland came from a central position just outside the box, Gakpo’s second goal against Austria was a counterattack move that saw the player pick up the ball on the left wing, before cutting inside and shooting with his right foot. His all-important goal against Romania, in which he received the ball more or less on the touchline before cutting inside and firing a shot inside the front post, was also a perfect goal from the left wing. And it’ll come as no surprise for fans of Dutch football to see Gakpo thriving on the left.

Netherlands Shows Liverpool How Good is Cody Gakpo

Prior to moving to Liverpool, Gakpo made his name in the Dutch top flight as a forward who could play across the attacking line but undoubtedly one that favored playing on the left. In 99 league starts in the Eredivisie, Gakpo played on the left wing 78 times, through the middle as a center forward 12 times, and on the right wing just nine times. And when we look at his goals and assists numbers in each position, we can see why he was favored out wide. While Gakpo averaged 0.39 goals and assists per 90 minutes on the right wing and had a solid average of 0.74 through the middle, he bagged a remarkable 1.18 goals and assists per 90 on the left wing. This certainly makes Liverpool’s decision to not play him in his favoured position all the more bizarre.

Indeed, since joining Liverpool Gakpo has started on the left wing just 10 times, while playing on the right wing on two occasions but most predominantly through the middle as a false No.9 or No.10 in no less than 44 of his 56 Premier League appearances to date. And, to no great surprise, the Dutch international has struggled to match the goals and assists he picks up for the Netherlands or what he was used to back in the Eredivisie. Despite picking up a very decent average of 0.65 goals and assists per 90 through the middle and an even better average of 0.95 goals and assists per 90 on the left wing for Liverpool, Gakpo’s average to date stands at just 0.65 goals and assists per 90 minutes of Premier League football. Which is almost half what Gakpo’s average of 1.03 per 90 was in the Eredivisie.

Netherlands Shows Liverpool How Good is Cody Gakpo

Naturally, the forward is competing with many talented players for the shot of playing on the left wing for Liverpool. Most notably, the Anfield club can call upon players like Luis Díaz, Diogo Jota, and even forward Darwin Núñez, who all like to play on the left wing or drift out there during games. But if new manager Arne Slot hopes to get the best of his compatriot this season and see him returning to the kind of goal contributions he achieved in the Eredivisie, he may do well to consider what Koeman has achieved with Gakpo on the left wing at Euro 2024.

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