Liverpool Are Out Of The FA Cup: Have They Invested In The Wrong Area With Gakpo?

Brighton beat Liverpool 2-1 in the Fourth Round thanks to Kauro Mitoma's late winner
15:33, 29 Jan 2023

Kaoru Mitoma scored a wonderful injury-time winner to dump holders Liverpool out of the FA Cup as Brighton secured a 2-1 win in dramatic circumstances. 

Liverpool’s midfield failed to seize any form of control on the south coast. Harvey Elliott, playing on the left-wing scored the opener before Lewis Dunk inadvertently steered home the equaliser in a hotly-contested encounter. Then Mitoma stole the show in the 92nd minute as he controlled the ball at the back post before poking past Alisson to secure a famous win. 

But this performance, and the ones we have seen since the World Cup raise serious questions. This month, Liverpool decided to spend £35m on Cody Gakpo. Against Brighton, he started in a central role, flanked by Elliot and Mo Salah and was fairly anonymous as he continued the hunt for his first goal in red. 


It didn’t happen for the Dutch international who shone at the World Cup and with Diogo Jota and Luis Diaz close to a return from injury, it remains to be seen exactly where he will fit into Jurgen Klopp’s long-term plans when he has more options.

Meanwhile the man who could define the last few days of this transfer window, Moises Caicedo, was absent due to the speculation surrounding his future. “Moises is a good guy,” his boss Roberto De Zerbi said ahead of the game. “We will see tomorrow and in the next days, what happens. We hope he stays with us until the end of the season. We will see the best solution for club, for him and for us."

Even though Brighton were forced to cope without their influential midfielder, Liverpool’s midfield looked second best. 18-year-old Stefan Bajcetic started again and did alright at the base of midfield as Jurgen Klopp made just one change from the team that drew with Chelsea last weekend. The German aimed to bring some consistency to his side, but with Thiago and Naby Keita also in central midfield, the Reds were porous at times. 

Now Gakpo is certainly a fantastic player. He had moments on the ball that made your jaw drop and will surely be a success at Anfield - but is he the player Liverpool should have prioritised this window? 

His arrival and the limited funds available to Klopp seems to have ruled them out of the running to sign Caicedo, as league leaders Arsenal become front-runners to secure his signature. With so much talent at the top-end of the pitch, and such a lack of it in the middle of the park, it seems like a missed opportunity.

Jordan Henderson came on in an attempt to steady the ship while 37-year-old James Milner came off the bench to play at right-back, but their only other options are Fabinho and Curtis Jones. It’s been a selection of players that Klopp hasn’t quite managed to get a tune out of this term, but his central midfielders have never been the stars. 

Instead they’ve been hard-working, energetic and clever on the ball. When the Reds had Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino alongside Salah, the midfield three were often ignored, as defenders went from back to front quickly and the full-backs played as wingers. Henderson is the best example of this, a leader who is brilliant at covering spaces defensively, but doesn’t get the credit he deserves in his own right. 

The £60+ price tag on Caicedo’s head has certainly put some suitors off, including Liverpool. However, with Keita, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Roberto Firmino all out of contract this summer - has Klopp got something special planned? A big transfer. Jude Bellingham. 

It would make sense that the Reds are keeping their powder dry this month if that is the case, but surely the English star will not join a club that is not playing Champions League football next term. Especially with Real Madrid interested. A top four finish seems unlikely at this stage so the only way they can make it is to win the Champions League this season. 

Compared to their top six rivals, Liverpool are lacking serious investment. It’s why they’ve regressed so drastically this season. Out of the race for the top four, out of the Carabao Cup and now out of the FA Cup. This is turning into a nightmare season for Liverpool, who may just regret not investing a little wiser this winter. 

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