‘Now also candidate at Orange’

‘Now also candidate at Orange’

NOS Football

Gakpo on vacancy in striker at Oranje: ‘I am candidate’

Memphis Depay’s absence from the Dutch national team has left a vacancy for the striker position. “The national coach has to fill it differently and then I am a candidate,” said Cody Gakpo ahead of the Nations League final round.

The 24-year-old Gakpo, normally a left winger, made the switch from PSV to Liverpool in the winter break for about 42 million euros.

Difficult period

“It was a difficult period when I just arrived there,” Gakpo recalls. Liverpool was in a dip in form at the time and, as a result, his adjustment was not entirely smooth either.

At some point, Gakpo was invited by coach Jürgen Klopp and assistant Pepijn Lijnders for an interview. With the aim of posting the Oranje international in the striker position.

“They indicated what they wanted from me. In the beginning it took some getting used to, of course, but eventually you grow a bit. I did enjoy playing at that position the last few months.”

Gakpo is striker at Liverpool: ‘Fine to play there in recent months’

That was reflected in his numbers. Gakpo went on to score as a ‘false’ number nine and also gave assists. Liverpool benefited, but a Champions League ticket was no longer in the cards.

Gakpo has been hanging out with fellow international Virgil van Dijk a lot since his arrival in England. “He has helped me a lot, both on and off the pitch. We see each other almost every day. I am very grateful to him for the things he has already done for me.”

Next Wednesday the Nations League semifinal game against Croatia awaits Gakpo and Oranje. After the disappointing European Championship qualification duels with France and yet also Gibraltar, a chance to regain some goodwill.

“We know what happened in March, but my feeling now is positive. This will be an important period where we can take a prize as a country,” Gakpo said.

In the event of a win over the Croats, Spain or Italy awaits in the final match. With Gakpo also then almost certainly in a central role up front. “I just have to show what I can do in that spot. That’s how life can run, beautiful right?”

Kayleigh Williams