Classy Cody can help gets the Reds ‘train’ back on track – as Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp hails new signing Gakpo ahead of his debut in Saturday’s FA Cup tie against Wolves
Gakpo has impressed his new team-mates in training this week and he will be involved in Saturday night’s FA Cup third-round tie against Wolves, with Klopp preparing to field a strong team as Liverpool begin their defence of the trophy they won last May.
Liverpool came in late to win the race to sign Gakpo from PSV Eindhoven for £43million, trumping Manchester United, and Klopp gave a candid insight into why the Netherlands international chose to move to Merseyside rather than link up with Erik ten Hag.
Jurgen Klopp is set to launch Cody Gakpo’s Liverpool career safe in the knowledge he is a star
The new £43million arrival from PSV Eindhoven (pictured) has impressed in training this week and is set to make his debut when the Reds face Wolves at Anfield in the FA Cup on Saturday
In recent seasons, Klopp has been able to tell new January signings — such as Virgil van Dijk and Luis Diaz — that Liverpool were on course to qualify for the Champions League but that was not part of the sales pitch this time. That, however, did not prove a hurdle in negotiations.
‘There were easier moments to join Liverpool,’ said Klopp, who confirmed the hamstrung Van Dijk will be missing for more than a month. ‘Last year, we were not qualified for the Champions League already but it looked like it would happen.
‘This year, we cannot guarantee that but Cody never asked. From time-to-time players ask, ‘Do you think you can make the Champions League?’ but he can read the table himself, so he knew it would be a tight decision.
‘But what I like about this is he’s obviously a guy who doesn’t want to jump on a running train, he wants to push the train. I like that a lot. Good for him, as well, because it always helps in life if you are a little bit like that. That’s how it is.’
And German boss Klopp opened up on exactly how instrumental defender Virgil van Dijk (right) was in persuading his Holland international team-mate to join him on Merseyside
Van Dijk was an instrumental figure in the deal, telling his compatriot about the journey he had been on since moving to Anfield and explaining why the environment would be perfect for Gakpo to take the next step. Klopp also believes the atmosphere will help him flourish.
‘We describe it internally as a family and it’s exactly like that,’ said Klopp. ‘We sing birthday songs for everybody, everybody gets flowers at the right moment, we do these kind of things. We don’t forget the personal things and that is what Virgil probably told him.
‘We could be more successful on the pitch at the moment, definitely. But everyone knows we fight with all we have to get there again, and we will get there. It’s always tough in these moments and I really like the fact he decided pretty quickly, ‘That’s the right club for me’. It speaks volumes.’
It also speaks volumes that Liverpool are going to pick as strong a team as possible for this competition, which may yet end up as their best hope of winning silverware this season.
Alisson (left) is set to start in goal despite deputy Caoimhin Kelleher (right) needing game time
To illustrate that point, Alisson will play in goal even though his deputy Caoimhin Kelleher needs games.
Gakpo, though, will undoubtedly be the subject of all interest and Klopp was bowled over when he spoke to the 23-year-old on the phone after Liverpool had received permission from PSV. Klopp was also encouraged by what he saw of Gakpo at the World Cup and hopes the positive impressions continue.
‘I knew of him before,’ said Klopp. ‘Then I spoke to the boy and he has perfect English, so it made the conversation really easy. In that moment you see his face, the smile has warmth in there and we had the information from Virgil of him as a person.
‘So there were no doubts at all. Personality is very important, not just in football but in life in general. I’m very happy with the signing. He is obviously full of joy, enjoying each second in the moment. It is all very good.’