Former Real Madrid midfielder Rafael van der Vaart has slammed Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp for using Cody Gakpo as a striker.
The Dutch forward joined the Reds from PSV Eindhoven for €50 million, including add-ons in January this year. He struggled to impress in his first few games but recently scored his first goal for the club. Gakpo netted their second goal in a 2-0 win over Everton in the Premier League on February 13.
Manager Klopp has often used the Dutchman as a striker with Darwin Nunez on the left and Mohamed Salah on the right. However, Gakpo's compatriot Van der Vaart believes that it isn't the right position for the forward.
Speaking on Ladbrokes, he said:
"The biggest surprise for me wasn't that Liverpool bought Cody Gakpo last month - look, if you have the sort of tournament he did in Qatar, you're going to attract interest from a lot of top clubs.
"But, for me, they've signed a player who has played his whole career as a left-winger, and in the national team he's played as a number 10, a second striker... and now he's playing as a striker? He's not a striker!"
Van der Vaart pointed out Gakpo's strengths and claimed that he is better suited to play on the left wing. He said:
"Cody needs space to play in, he needs to run with the ball, that's where he's most dangerous. That's the biggest issue he has at Liverpool, why are they playing him as a number nine? He's a left-winger who can cut inside and cause danger there."
Gakpo has scored one goal in seven appearances for Liverpool. Prior to his move last month, he had registered 13 goals and 17 assists in 24 games for PSV Eindhoven in the first half of the 2022-23 season.
Liverpool forward Cody Gakpo on his preferred position
Cody Gakpo was recently asked by Sky Sports about his preferred playing position as well. The Netherlands international replied:
"Obviously I played a few games in the centre and more like a false nine to be involved in the build-up, try and be involved in the build-up, and from there go forward. It's another role than I’m used to, but it’s good for me to improve the position and keep working."
Gakpo will likely have more competition for his place now with Roberto Firmino and Diogo Jota back in action for Liverpool. Luis Diaz is set to return soon as well.
The Reds are ninth in the Premier League table and will next face Newcastle United away on Saturday, February 18.