By India Today Sports Desk: Netherlands rising star Cody Gakpo has started to feel comfortable in the role of a striker. Gakpo, who was one of Netherlands' best player in the FIFA World Cup 2022 has said that he is fine with the idea of shifting from the wings to a main striker role.
One of the breakout stars in the FIFA World Cup 2022, Gakpo was signed by Premier League club Liverpool. Gakpo did not get to play at the wings and took time to adjust to the new system under Jurgen Klopp. The 24-year-old forward will be expected to replace Memphis Depay in the playing XI who has been ruled out from the clash vs Croatia in the Nations League semi-final.
Gakpo, 24, built his reputation as a left winger at PSV Eindhoven but was switched to striker after moving to Liverpool in January.
"Now that I'm playing at Liverpool I think it's a nice position," he told reporters on Sunday as the Netherlands prepared for the four-nation tournament. They face Croatia in Rotterdam on Wednesday in the first semi-final.
With Depay sidelined through injury, Gakpo is expected to lead the line for the hosts.
Gakpo revealed in a chat with the reporters that several other managers have tried to shift him to the centre-forward's position but have not been successful.
"You have to become a striker or a false No. 9," Gakpo revealed his chat with Gus Hiddink at PSV.
"I didn't want to believe it then. And then when Roger Schmidt said the same thing later at PSV when he was coach, I was even more stubborn. It felt good on the left flank," the forward added.
“But at the last World Cup I was already more central on the field and at Liverpool permanently in the past six months. It’s been good. I'm excited now to get better in the position in the near future, for the club as well as the national team,” the player spoke about his transition.
Jurgen Klopp’s decision to shift Gakpo was initially met with criticism from Dutch pundits, who felt the Liverpool manager would not be able to get the best out of him.
"It was a difficult period when I first arrived," Gakpo recalled. Liverpool were struggling with in a dip in form and his introduction to the team did not go as smoothly as hoped.
Klopp then called him in a for pep talk. “He said what he wanted from me. In the beginning, of course, it took some getting used to, but I’ve enjoyed playing in that position in recent months."
Netherlands will be playing Croatia for a place in the Nations League final.
— ENDS —
The Open Magazine of India by Artmotion Network (https://magazine.armotion.com/)