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Netherlands national football team
European Championship | Semi-Finals
Jul 10, 2024 at 8pm UK
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England national football team

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Cody Gakpo admits Jurgen Klopp did not play him in preferred position at Liverpool

Cody Gakpo sends clear message to Arne Slot over Liverpool future
© Reuters
Liverpool's Cody Gakpo admits that he was not played in his preferred position under former manager Jurgen Klopp and has since thrived in his favoured role for Netherlands at Euro 2024.

Liverpool attacker Cody Gakpo has admitted that he was not played in his preferred position on the left wing under former manager Jurgen Klopp.

The 25-year-old moved to Anfield from PSV Eindhoven for a reported £45m in January 2023 and was predominantly used as a centre-forward by Klopp, scoring 23 goals in 79 appearances across all competitions.

However, Gakpo has shown his prolific form on the left side of attack and has excelled in that role for Netherlands at Euro 2024, 18 months on from an impressive campaign in the same position at the 2022 World Cup.

Gakpo is currently the joint-top scorer at Euro 2024 with three goals in five appearances, scoring in group-stage games against Poland and Austria before making the net ripple against Romania in the last 16.

The 29-cap Dutch international has since credited national team boss Ronald Koeman for playing him in his preferred position on the left, providing a clear message to new Liverpool boss Arne Slot ahead of the 2024-25 season.

Netherlands' Cody Gakpo celebrates scoring their first goal on July 2, 2024© Reuters

Gakpo confirms he prefers to play on left wing

"I play on the left wing. In Liverpool I played a lot as a striker, so I think that's the most different thing," Gakpo told reporters when comparing his form at club level and international level.

"I was a left winger before, so that's always been my preference. I think in the last one-and-a-half years the coach needed me to play somewhere else and that's what I try to do the best I can."

On Netherlands' Euro 2024 campaign, Gakpo added: "This has been a very beautiful tournament with our group. The feeling's really strong. We're in the semi-final and this is not the end of the tournament. Every single team that is here wants to get to the final and we're no different.

"It's not for nothing that England are in the semi-finals. They have a really good group of players and it's a fantastic squad, so it will hopefully be a beautiful game.

"In the end, [progressing to the latter stages is] the most important thing. You can play good football but still go out. Obviously I think everyone knows each country can play a little bit better, but if you win that's all that matters."

Koeman believes that Gakpo has been at his "most dangerous" when playing on the left, adding: "Yes, he can play as a striker, but he has shown that he's most dangerous from the left side.

Liverpool attacker Cody Gakpo pictured on January 7, 2023© Reuters

Gakpo a 'dangerous' player on the left

"He is really dangerous if he comes one-against-one with the right-back. Inside, outside, he has his qualities, he's strong. He's playing at a great level at this tournament. He's maybe the (most) important player until now."

Gakpo will link up with Slot at Liverpool once Netherlands' Euro 2024 campaign comes to an end, and the new Reds boss has already revealed that he has a plan for both the attacker and Trent Alexander-Arnold, who was 'experimented' in midfield by England earlier this month.

"I don't have an opinion about what their best positions would be with their countries," Slot said at a press conference last weekend. "Because that always depends on the players you have as well.

"You cannot judge a player on his own, it's always a team effort. But I do have my opinion about where they're going to play here. But if you don't mind, I'm going to talk to them about that first and work with them first before telling it here."

"I am hoping [Gakpo] will step up even more," Slot added. "We are hoping and expecting him to do even better. He has been impressive and had a good tournament so far. We've inherited a good team. With the way I look at football, I can see how important it is to work on a daily basis."

Gakpo, who is in pursuit of the Euro 2024 Golden Boot, is expected to start for Netherlands when they lock horns with England at the Westfalenstadion in Dortmund on Wednesday night when both nations battle it out for a place in the Euro 2024 final.

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Group A

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Q Germany Germany32107
Q Switzerland Switzerland31205
3 Hungary Hungary31023
4 Scotland flag Scotland30121

Group B

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Q Spain Spain33009
Q Italy Italy31114
3 Croatia Croatia30212
4 Albania national flag Albania30121

Group C

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Q England flag England31205
Q Denmark Denmark30303
Q Slovenia Slovenia30303
4 Serbia Serbia30212

Group D

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Q Austria Austria32016
Q France France31205
Q Netherlands Netherlands31114
4 Poland Poland30121

Group E

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Q Belgium Belgium31114
Q Slovakia Slovakia31114
4 Ukraine Ukraine31114

Group F

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Q Portugal Portugal32016
Q Turkey Turkey32016
Q Georgia Georgia31114
4 Czech Republic Czech Republic30121


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