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Netherlands star Cody Gakpo has a “great future” ahead of him, according to his national team boss Ronald Koeman.
The Netherlands winger joined Liverpool from PSV after starring at the 2022 World Cup, moving to Anfield for a reported £37m.
Since the start of last season until his switch to England, no Eredivisie player had more goal involvements than the PSV man, who chipped in with 21 goals and 25 assists. Moreover, no player in Europe’s top 10 leagues totalled at least 20 goals and 20 assists over the same period.
Netherlands boss backs Gakpo to shine
Such fine form has, however, yet to be found at Liverpool, with Gakpo without a goal or assist in his four appearances for the Reds. He’s played twice in the Premier League and twice in the FA Cup, but has failed to have any major impact under Jurgen Klopp. In fact, the attacker has only found the target three times from his 12 shots.
But Netherlands boss Koeman, who is back in the national team dugout for a second spell, believes Gakpo just needs time to settle before he can finally spread his wings.
“I think it’s important that he’s playing and that’s really important for a young kid like Gakpo, [to be] struggling,” said Koeman, as per LiveScore. “It’s difficult because Liverpool is not in the last few months at that [high] level. That’s always difficult for a new signing, to come in during the season.
Gakpo ‘will be better’
Koeman added that the Premier League is a huge step up from the Eredivisie, where Gakpo had been one of the standout players. The 23-year-old has been thrown into the deep end immediately at Anfield, even starting in an unfamiliar centre-forward role at times due to Liverpool’s lack of attacking options.
Regular striker Roberto Firmino is currently sidelined with a muscle injury, with fellow forwards Diogo Jota and Luis Diaz both spending the majority of the campaign on the injury table.
Despite Gakpo’s struggles, Koeman is confident the winger has a bright future ahead of him, having shown the world his abilities last month with three goals at the World Cup in Qatar.
Speaking more on the young Liverpool forward, Koeman said: “You have to give him that time to develop and to adapt to the Premier League because it’s a different level.
“The intensity is much higher than he used to play in Holland but he’s young and he will learn and he will be better. But he has a great future.”
Netherlands forward remains key for Liverpool
While Gakpo continues to struggle in front of goal, he remains a crucial part of Liverpool’s attacking setup for the coming fixtures. Fortunately for Liverpool and indeed for Gakpo, Firmino is reportedly ready to return before January comes to an end, meaning the Netherlands man could return to his favoured left-wing spot.
Jota could also return soon from his thigh injury, with the Portugal forward scheduled to get back onto the pitch early next month. The major issue is, of course, Diaz, with the Colombian’s knee injury set to keep him out until early March.