Van Dijk doubles down on Gakpo prediction as star prepares for Liverpool debut

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Virgil van Dijk has once again backed Cody Gakpo to succeed to Liverpool (Image: Sky Sports)
Virgil van Dijk has once again backed Cody Gakpo to succeed to Liverpool (Image: Sky Sports)

Virgil van Dijk is adamant that new Liverpool teammate Cody Gakpo can handle the pressure at Anfield ahead of his much-anticipated debut.

The 23-year-old forward, who plays alongside Van Dijk for the Netherlands, joined Liverpool for an initial £37million at the beginning of the January transfer window after the Reds beat arch-enemies Manchester United to his signature. Gakpo is yet to feature for Jurgen Klopp 's side but could make his bow when they welcome Wolves in the FA Cup third round on Saturday.

After Klopp described the ex- PSV Eindhoven star as a "joy to watch" in training this week, Van Dijk - who's just received the bad news that he'll be ruled out for "more than a month" with a hamstring injury - has no doubts that Gakpo is up to the task.

"I think he'll handle it fine but you have no idea what it's like until you are under this sort of pressure," Van Dijk affirmed, having already claimed that his compatriot is ready for the step up. "He'll have to keep his head down and look at what we are doing as a group, and listen to the manager, listen to the players around you and don't listen too much to the outside world because you can be one of the best in the world one day and one of the worst the next.

"It's never something in the middle. He has to stay calm and I think he'll do that. He's that type of person." The Dutch defender added: "I think he can be very good for us. I feel like he will and he probably needs a bit of time. We need quality players and we need players who can decide games and I think over time he can definitely be one of those players, hopefully."

Klopp's dream Liverpool line up as last-gasp January transfers rejected rridqqieqiqerinvKlopp's dream Liverpool line up as last-gasp January transfers rejected

Klopp has remained tight-lipped on whether his new No.18 will start against Wolves but has certainly been impressed by Gakpo's displays on the training ground. "Cody has been in for two full training days and is a joy to watch, to be honest," the Reds boss beamed at his pre-match press conference on Friday. "In our situation, it's really nice to have a player who is pretty natural in a lot of things and knows where the goal is.

Van Dijk doubles down on Gakpo prediction as star prepares for Liverpool debutCody Gakpo could make his Liverpool debut against Wolves (Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

Have your say! Should Gakpo start against Wolves? Let us know your lineup in the comments section.

"He is obviously full of joy, enjoying each second at the moment. He's a good footballer, good in small spaces, likes to shoot from distance, good finisher and dribbler. Everybody who wants to know about him could know as there are a lot of videos out there about him.

"It is nice to see in real life, in front of you. He looks really promising and fit. The sessions are intense for him because they're different. I'm very positive about him. Coming from a new league is always difficult, but we expect a positive impact."

Nathan Ridley

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