Liverpool has ready-made replacement for Luis Diaz despite Jurgen Klopp error

Jurgen Klopp embraces Luis Diaz during his final game as Liverpool manager
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images)

Jurgen Klopp rarely got anything wrong during his time in charge of Liverpool. Cody Gakpo though is currently showing why the German made an error with him.

Gakpo has been in superb form for the Netherlands at Euro 2024, having scored three goals in five games to sit joint-top in the race for the Golden Boot. He was denied the sole top spot yesterday when the Netherlands’ winner against Turkey was awarded as an own goal to Mert Muldur.

Nevertheless, the 25-year-old has been in scintillating form for his country, and it’s no coincidence that he’s producing some of his best performances while playing on the left-hand side of the Dutch attack.

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It’s a role that comes naturally to Gakpo, given it’s where he made his name with PSV Eindhoven. Upon his move to Liverpool last year though, he was mainly utilized as a number nine by Klopp.

That led to mixed fortunes for the forward, who found himself falling down the pecking order last season before regaining his spot in the side towards the end of the campaign. Now back in his usual position for his country, there can be no doubt now as to his best position under new boss Arne Slot.

"He looks really sharp, Gakpo,” Gary Neville commented on ITV. “There were times at Liverpool when you know he played deep, sometimes central.

"But I went to see Ruud van Nistelrooy maybe 18 months ago now, or maybe 12 months, and he said 'Gakpo's definitely a left-sided player, a left-sided forward, that is his best position'. I think he's proven that in this tournament.”

He has indeed proven that, and possibly just at the right time for both himself and Slot.

Cody Gakpo celebrates after the Netherlands' second goal against Turkey
Cody Gakpo celebrates after the Netherlands' second goal against Turkey -Credit:Getty Images

Speculation continues over the future of Luis Diaz, who has been linked with Barcelona and PSG this summer. The Colombian’s father added fuel to the rumors, admitting to Win Sports: “It is true that Luis is a loyal Barcelona fan and it would be his dream to go there.”

He then added: “There would be no problem if Luis came to Barcelona because it is a top team and one of the best in the world." So, a move to Barca would certainly appeal to Diaz.

Having been Liverpool’s first choice on the left throughout the 2023/24 campaign, he would obviously need replacing if he were to make the move to the Camp Nou. That has led to the likes of Nico Williams and Anthony Gordon being linked, with talks over a move for the latter having broken down last week.

But, in Gakpo, Liverpool already has a ready-made replacement for Diaz, and one that Slot will no doubt know a lot about from their time in the Eredivisie. Speaking about his and Trent Alexander-Arnold’s best positions in his first press conference on Friday, Slot said: “I don’t judge players by their best positions with their internationals as it is different to here. Different players. Different roles.

“I do have my opinion about where they are going to play, but I will talk to them first before saying it here!” says: It seems a bit of a no-brainer for Gakpo to play on the left for Liverpool now, given the form he's shown for the Netherlands this summer. If he can replicate that with the Reds next season, he'll become first-choice on that side, regardless of whether Diaz is still at the club or not.

It's one of the rare decisions that Klopp got wrong in persisting with Gakpo through the center. You can understand why he did, but it's clear now that he is much better suited to the left.