Reuters2 minute reading
Cody Kakpo is keen to step into the centre-forward role for the Netherlands in this week’s Nations League final — rejected by Dutch first-choice Memphis Depay — after being relegated to the role over the past few months at Liverpool.
Gakpo, 24, built his reputation as a left-back at PSV Eindhoven but switched to a striker after moving to Liverpool in January.
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„Now that I’m playing in Liverpool, I think it’s a good position,” Kakpo told reporters as the Netherlands prepare for the four-nation tournament on Sunday. They will face Croatia in the first semi-final in Rotterdam on Wednesday.
With Debay sidelined through injury, Kakebo is expected to lead the line for the hosts.
„I firmly believe that being a striker suits me best,” said Kagbo, adding that several coaches had previously tried to convince him to switch, but he resisted.
„Guus Hiddink was the first. He spent some time as a sounding board at PSV and saw me play and said, 'You have to be a striker or a false No. 9′. I didn’t want to believe it. And then Roger Schmidt when he was coach at PSV said the same thing. I was still adamant. It was fine on the left side.
„But in the last World Cup, in the last six months I was already permanently central on the field and in Liverpool. It was good. I’m excited now to be in a better position for the club and for the future. The national team.”
Jurgen Klopp’s decision to replace Kakpo was met with criticism from Dutch pundits, who felt the Liverpool manager could not get the best out of him.
„It was a difficult time when I first arrived,” Kakpo recalls. Liverpool were struggling with a dip in form and his introduction to the team did not go as smoothly as expected.
Klopp later called him for a chat. „He said what he wanted from me. In the beginning, of course, it took some getting used to, but in recent months I’ve enjoyed playing in that position.”
Debe has a calf injury and Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman said his absence on Saturday „gave us a chance to see the other guys at work”.
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