Do Liverpool even need Cody Gakpo?

PSV confirmed the sale of Cody Gakpo to Liverpool on Monday evening
PSV confirmed the sale of Cody Gakpo to Liverpool on Monday evening / Soccrates Images/GettyImages

It was confirmed on Monday evening that the sale of Cody Gakpo from PSV Eindhoven to Liverpool was complete, reportedly for an initial fee of £37 million.

Add-ons should take that to around the 45 million range, a very respectable price for a player with 12 goals and 14 assists in 19 appearances for PSV this season.

But do Liverpool actually need him?

Much has been made of Gakpo's fit - initially with a potential move to Manchester United in mind but now with Jurgen Klopp's squad.

As a right-footed, left-sided forward, he will certainly have competition for a starting berth at Anfield but that was always going to happen. He's too good not to be joining a Champions League-level squad with serious attacking talent across the front line.

Let's break down what role he fills and whether he actually solves any problems for Liverpool.

First things first. In the short term, Gakpo is a quality replacement for Luis Diaz and Diogo Jota, who are both out through injury. Their timelines are complicated but Jota is expected back in February while Diaz could be out until March, or even later.

Getting Gakpo in before the January transfer window opens is therefore an incredibly smart bit of business from Liverpool. He should be ready to hit the ground running immediately and provides much-needed cover as a left-sided forward, number 9 or even a number 10.

The stats show that he's able to provide goal contributions in spades (albeit in the Eredivisie), he's an excellent set-piece taker and given his height and movement, he's a serious threat getting on the end of crosses too - catnip for Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson.

Off the left is clearly the Dutchman's best position, for now, but it wouldn't be a surprise to see him develop into a well-rounded striker given his physical attributes, aerial ability and off-the-ball work.

His versatility, too, gives Klopp options. Darwin Nunez is arguably more of a wide forward than a centre forward, meaning that Gakpo could take up the central role and the pair could then switch as and when during a game, dragging defenders around, causing disruption and countering any marking schemes their opponents might have.

Given that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain started on the left of the front three against Aston Villa on Monday, the need for an immediate solution was made apparent. In Gakpo, they've found an instant and cost-effective one, who could well turn out to be far more.

How about in the long term?

Critics of the move, who just so happen to be Manchester United fans, for some reason, really struggling to explain that one, are quick to point out a potential logjam further down the line when both Luis Diaz and Diogo Jota return to full fitness.

That would potentially give Klopp the following options for his three forward positions: Salah, Firmino, Jota, Diaz, Nunez, Fabio Carvalho and Gakpo. That is, of course, if Firmino is offered a contract extension.

Given Gakpo's arrival that now appears both unlikely and unnecessary. Which leaves us with six players for three positions. Salah is a surefire starter on the right, meaning it is effectively five players for two positions. Fabio Carvalho, while promising, isn't on the level of the others and should realistically be sent out on loan to develop. Down to four.

Jota, Nunez and Gakpo can all play centrally. Jota is arguably best suited to the role but Nunez and Gakpo have both proven they can play there effectively. Diaz, Nunez and Gakpo all seemingly prefer to play on the left, which is where the obvious congestion is.

That being said, having four quality starters for two positions is no bad thing - particularly given the clogging up of fixtures Champions League clubs such as Liverpool typically face. Beyond that, all are fairly versatile players, meaning they can chop and change as required. It is down to Klopp to find the best balance with that front line but, if nothing else, it will give the players increased incentive to perform.

Right now, Gakpo is arguably best placed to make that starting position his own before Jota and Diaz even get a chance to compete. Nunez has been hit-and-miss so far but there are signs that there is a player there.

He will have to continue as the central striker for now, until at least Firmino is back in the New Year and Jota is fully fit and able to ease the burden sometime in February.

Who knows, maybe Klopp has a 4-2-3-1 in mind for the long term, in which he would comfortably be able to accommodate three of the above alongside Salah. Having that kind of tactical flexibility, without losing a shred of quality, is no bad thing.

As such, you have to say that yes, Liverpool do need him. That they have his signature secured with so little fuss and hassle is an added bonus (and a reminder to clubs like Manchester United how transfer business should be done).

There are plenty of minutes to go around - just look at how Pep Guardiola has handled Manchester City's glut of brilliant forwards for the past few seasons. While the overlap between Nunez, Diaz and Gakpo is considerable, Klopp will have a plan to tackle it.

Gakpo might even be the best player of the three, which makes any debate about the transfer redundant. There are no guarantees in football - who knows how Diaz will look like after such a lengthy layoff. With Gakpo now on the books, there is also no need to rush him back. That alone could make the transfer worth it.

This signing gives them insurance across the front line for the remainder of the season, where qualifying for the Champions League looks as great a task as ever, and most importantly, beyond. The five-and-a-half-year contract demonstrates the faith the club have in the player.

At 23 years of age, Gakpo still has considerable room to improve and given how Klopp has worked wonders with exactly this profile of player before - think Sadio Mane - you shouldn't bet against him thriving in Liverpool's system once he gets up to speed.

Now please sort out the midfield.