Cody Gakpo and Luis Diaz are in a battle for Liverpool's left wing spot

With multiple talented players to fill the left side of the Reds attack, who's the top choice?
Liverpool FC v SV Darmstadt 98 - Pre-Season Friendly
Liverpool FC v SV Darmstadt 98 - Pre-Season Friendly / Alex Livesey/GettyImages

One of the hard truth Liverpool fans have learned over the past year is that quite a few of the squad's players are truly excellent, the issue is just that a few of them are all excellent in the same spot.

The argument can be made that Luis Díaz, Dominik Szoboszlai, Darwin Núñez, Diogo Jota and Cody Gakpo are all best-suited to playing on the left, creating quite the dilemma for Arne Slot.

Of course, rotation is key, so depth is a good thing, but that's simply too much talent to rotate through one spot. Furthermore, when the biggest matches come, it's important to know who's at the top of the. pecking order, and we can start by paring down three of those five names.

Each player brings something different

Núñez, for all of his flaws, is locked into the team's starting striker role, especially after an incredibly strong summer for Uruguay.

Similarly, Diogo Jota's clinical finishing makes him a good fit to rotate in at that role when he's healthy, which is unfortunately rare.

Lastly, Szoboszlai's versatility has been something of a curse to the Hungarian star; he's put in some good performances in attacking midfield, so he's routinely played that more central role, even though his most natural spot is on the left.

Lucas Paqueta, Dominik Szoboszlai
West Ham United v Liverpool FC - Premier League / Justin Setterfield/GettyImages

So, that leaves Díaz and Gakpo. Naturally, it's a long season, so both players can expect to receive significant minutes at the position should they both stay healthy, but who's the first choice?

Gakpo and Diaz have played big roles this summer

Let's start by taking a look at their summer performances, as they've both had the chance to play extended periods at their natural position.

Gakpo is tied as the leading scorer at this year's Euro, providing big play after big play for the Netherlands, who await a semifinal matchup with England. He's also contributed an assist, and has yet to play a subpar match in the tournament.

Díaz's Colombia are also looking great as Copa America semifinalists, and he's contributed a pair of goals so far in four tournament matches.

However, when he hasn't gotten onto the score sheet, he's struggled to have an impact, putting in a couple of quiet performances.

Luis Diaz, James Rodriguez
Colombia v Panama - CONMEBOL Copa America USA 2024 / Jamie Squire/GettyImages

Consistency matters

This is really emblematic of what the pair have done in a Liverpool shirt as well. By the eye test, Díaz should have this debate wrapped up, but he has struggled to turn progressive play into goals or even assists.

You'd expect more from a player with his talent level who is almost always allowed to play in his natural position, but Díaz has had significant finishing issues, the metrics describing which have perhaps been masked by the publicity of Darwin's much more dire statistics in the same area.

As lively as Díaz so often looks, he doesn't consistently turn the impressive dribbles and runs into anything of value for Liverpool.

Luis Diaz, Wataru Endo, Cody Gakpo
Liverpool FC v Luton Town - Premier League / Clive Brunskill/GettyImages

Gakpo, on the other hand, put up the same scoring and assisting numbers as Díaz in Premier League play this year- in around a thousand fewer minutes on the pitch.

He was particularly impressive towards the end of the season, when he got some opportunities to play on the left, as opposed to stretches throughout which he looked lost when asked to play more centrally.

The Verdict

Put simply, Díaz appears to carry much higher value on the transfer market, only effectively plays one position, and it's becoming more and more apparent that he's not the best option at that spot.

It's hard to see a consistent, positive role for him in Arne Slot's team, and my recommendation would be not only to favor other options such as Gakpo when it comes to setting the XI, but sell Díaz while his value is as high as it's ever going to get.

Another year older and another lackluster season could really put a dent in the transfer fee Liverpool can ask for the Colombian winger, who is seemingly rumored to be leaving every other transfer window anyhow.

The funds could be used to shore up the midfield, and players like Gakpo and Szoboszlai could have more opportunities to contribute on the left.

Of course, Díaz is a tremendous talent, the fit at Liverpool just doesn't seem to be there- the right bid could trigger a move that provides a much-needed fresh start, one that would very likely be beneficial to all parties involved.