Van Nistelrooy singles out ‘sharp’ Liverpool star for praise after adapting ‘quickly’ to new level

Former Manchester United forward Ruud van Nistelrooy has singled out Liverpool’s Cody Gakpo for praise following their Champions League defeat.

Jurgen Klopp’s side started well against Real Madrid, but ultimately came undone in the second half as they lost 5-2.

Darwin Nunez and Mohamed Salah had put Liverpool 2-0 ahead after just 14 minutes had been played at Anfield.

Gakpo started the evening as Liverpool’s number nine and Van Nistelrooy picked out the 23-year-old for praise.

“I thought Cody [Gakpo] was strong,” Van Nistelrooy told De Telegraaf. “Just like all of Liverpool in the first 20 minutes. They were blowing away Real Madrid and Cody was strong.

“He had some great ball-saving moments, playing the ball to the side and moving well. Cody also had some switching moments after ball loss, winning the ball back and looked very sharp.

“But that was also the case against Newcastle United and in the derby against Everton. You see he adapts quickly to that level.”

There have been some discussions over what his best position is, but Klopp has had some luck with trying him out as a number nine recently.

Gakpo has scored in his last two Premier League outings for Liverpool and he was used through the middle in each of those games.

Liverpool have had some huge problems this season, but the bright form of Gakpo has to be a shoot of optimism for Klopp and his side.

Jamie Carragher hasn’t been as sure about the Gakpo deal though as he claimed the Dutch forward was not a typical Klopp signing.

“In attack, [Luis] Diaz started his Liverpool career brilliantly but Nunez is a work in progress, and I am baffled watching Gakpo’s early performances,” Carragher explained.

“Gakpo is not a typical Klopp signing, lacking lightning pace and the capacity to lead a high press.

“Why commit up to £45million on someone who will be on the bench when Diaz and Diogo Jota are fit? Especially when another area of the team needed strengthening?”

Carragher did compare Gakpo and his style to that of Roberto Firmino and perhaps that is where Liverpool will get the best out of him.

“I just think actually watching Gakpo, it feels like his profile is more similar to Firmino than the other wide players who have blistering pace to run in behind,” the pundit told Sky Sports.

“Could it actually be what we’ve seen tonight where Nunez finds himself on the left a lot more and Gakpo actually plays in that hole?

“His main strength, when I’ve watched him in these first few weeks, is actually with the ball. When the ball comes into his feet, you don’t feel like he’s gong to lose it.”

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