Julian Ward & Slot Could Now Make Liverpool’s “Special” Talent Even Better Than Nunez

While Arne Slot’s appointment as the new Liverpool manager awaits confirmation, the succession plan for Jurgen Klopp appears finalised, with Fabrizio Romano confirming the deal.

Liverpool reached great heights under Klopp, but concerns loom as they transition to a new era. The future of Darwin Nunez is a key focus for FSG’s CEO of Football, Michael Edwards.

Whether Nunez will lead Liverpool’s attack next season remains uncertain, despite promising reports of new faces potentially making an impact. Slot may consider compatriot Cody Gakpo as an internal solution for the team’s evolution.

Cody Gakpo’s Season in Numbers

Liverpool made a significant acquisition in January 2023 by bringing Gakpo to Merseyside, following his outstanding performance at the World Cup in Qatar. Despite competition from Manchester United, Liverpool secured his signature in a £35 million deal.

In the previous season, despite Liverpool’s struggles, the 25-year-old managed to score seven goals and provide three assists in just 17 Premier League appearances. Pep Lijnders, Liverpool’s assistant manager, praised him for his special skill set.

Expectations were high for Gakpo to elevate his performance this season. While he has shown glimpses of his talent as one of Liverpool’s forwards, his journey has been far from smooth.

Nevertheless, he has managed to score 15 goals in 30 starting appearances across all competitions this season. His versatility has been crucial in coping with numerous injuries within the squad.

At 6 feet 1 inch, Gakpo could greatly benefit from the guidance of a new manager like Slot, who could recognize his abilities and deploy him consistently in a specific role.

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Additionally, with Julian Ward leading Liverpool’s new player development strategy under FSG, Gakpo may receive the necessary attention to identify his strengths and integrate them effectively within the team’s new framework on Merseyside.

Why Cody Gakpo Could Shine Under Arne Slot

Gakpo’s tenure at Liverpool hasn’t solidified a consistent starting position in the Premier League. Nonetheless, his skill and flair could potentially secure him a spot as Slot’s main striker.

Slot, the Feyenoord head coach, favours an aggressive, fluid attacking style, a realm where Gakpo’s contemporary approach shines. He could potentially overshadow Nunez as the primary focal point in the team’s forward line.

Gakpo’s stats, according to FBref, place him in impressive percentiles among Europe’s top five leagues. He ranks in the top brackets for assists, shot-creating actions, passes attempted, progressive passes, progressive carries, successful take-ons, and tackles per 90.

These statistics underscore Gakpo’s natural technical ability and tactical astuteness, showcasing his knack for advancing play through both distribution and individual efforts.

His ability to penetrate dangerous areas adds a layer of dynamism that exceeds many Premier League center-forwards, prompting Klopp to deploy him in various positions throughout the season.

Cody Gakpo: Liverpool Stats by Position 23/24
PositionAppsGoalsAssists
Centre-forward25113
Left winger1233
Central midfield700
Right winger710
Stats via Transfermarkt

Naturally, the talent earning £120k per week thrives best when deployed in his favored position as a center-forward, yet he consistently demonstrates creativity and adaptability.

Could he have performed better this season? Absolutely, but Gakpo has notably gained confidence and fluidity as the season progressed.

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Admittedly, his recent performances have been marred by occasional ineffectiveness and, on occasion, embarrassment, but he’s not alone in this regard. Nunez, too, has failed to live up to expectations to the extent that he removed Liverpool FC-related content from his Instagram account after facing criticism.

Mohamed Salah, too, has faced criticism for his lack of efficiency in front of the goal, a departure from his usual dominance throughout his Premier League career.

Gakpo has been deployed in various positions during Klopp’s final year, showcasing versatility and technical prowess, yet he desires a consistent role in Liverpool’s starting lineup.

Consistency is key, and Gakpo possesses both talent and work ethic. However, he requires better positional understanding to excel.

Amidst doubts about Nunez’s future at Liverpool, Barcelona have emerged as a potential destination for the Uruguayan, seeking a long-term replacement for Robert Lewandowski.

Despite limited starting appearances, Gakpo has managed to score 15 goals in all competitions, demonstrating superior finishing compared to Nunez.

Liverpool’s significant investment in Nunez has yet to yield desired results, with concerns about his effectiveness as a striker.

In contrast, Gakpo has scored 14 goals and missed fewer big chances, making him a more efficient finisher.

Could Gakpo be the solution for Liverpool’s striker woes? His goal-scoring prowess suggests he could offer an improvement over the current options.

Furthermore, Gakpo possesses the qualities to thrive in Liverpool’s system, making him an enticing prospect for Klopp.

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