Cody Gakpo is ready to play wherever he is needed as Liverpool lock horns with Real Madrid in the Champions League round-of-16 first leg at Anfield on Tuesday night.
The Dutchman has been utilised both upfront and on the left-wing since joining the Reds from Anfield, and has scored in each of his last two appearances when playing down the middle against Everton and Newcastle United.
For both games, he was stationed between Darwin Nunez and Mohamed Salah on the flanks, but the Uruguayan is a doubt to face Real Madrid after being forced off against Newcastle with a shoulder injury.
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Jurgen Klopp would confirm that ‘there is a chance’ Nunez would be fit to play against the La Liga giants. But if not, Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino will be vying to come into the Liverpool starting XI in place of the 23-year-old, having returned from long-term injuries earlier this month.
As a result, Gakpo could find himself lining up down the middle again or back on the left. And while the majority of his club career has been spent on the flanks as an inverted winger, he’s revealed Jurgen Klopp has spoken to him about playing both positions since he joined the Reds.
“Obviously I played the last three years on the left side, but at the World Cup under Louis van Gaal I played already in the centre,” the Dutchman told reporters. “I already tried to adapt to that.
“When I came here, I spoke to the coach and he said it would be possible to play on the left or the centre. I start playing in the centre so I just tried to adapt as quickly as possible, try to improve and try to do my best.”
Meanwhile, Gakpo, who will be making only his second appearance in the Champions League proper if selected against Real Madrid, has backed Liverpool to prove they have turned a corner against the La Liga giants.
The Reds have ultimately struggled since the forward joined from PSV Eindhoven. And while he admits he can’t highlight what has changed after Liverpool recorded back-to-back wins, he insisted it’s in difficult times when ‘a real team shows up’.
“I think it is difficult to put a finger on something that has really changed, but everyone knows when you are not really winning games it is difficult,” he admitted. “But I sense the group is really good, we come together and are trying to stay together in difficult moments.
“I think that is one of the strengths of this team and from there you know you are going to win some games and we have won two in a row now. We have to keep working hard and keep improving a lot of things to keep winning the games.
“When it’s difficult, then a real team shows up. This is one of the teams. We really stick together. Even though it was difficult, we try to stay positive and try to keep helping each other in difficult moments. Now we have a big opportunity to show we are back on track.
“As a team we had a difficult period but then we won two games in a row and it is normal the confidence is coming back. As a team, we are ready. We want to perform in this game. We want to win, especially at home. We want to go through to the next round. We have to be ready, we want to be ready, and I think we are ready for it.
“It is a knockout phase so there is a lot at stake, but we want to prove and we want to show we are a good team and are then again. We have to perform and try and win at home and try to win away.”
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