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Cody Gakpo on settling in at Liverpool and taking on Real Madrid

"They’ve got lots of individual quality, but so have we," says the Liverpool forward as he prepares to take on Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League round of 16.

Cody Gakpo joined Liverpool from PSV in the winter break
Cody Gakpo joined Liverpool from PSV in the winter break Visionhaus/Getty Images

After a terrific autumn campaign with PSV Eindhoven, striker Cody Gakpo left his native Netherlands for Liverpool in the winter, and can make his UEFA Champions League debut for the club in tonight's round of 16 opener against Real Madrid.

The 23-year-old talked to UEFA.com about settling in at Anfield and the prospect of taking on the European champions.

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Gakpo's PSV group stage highlights

On why he chose Liverpool

When I heard it was an option, I didn’t have any doubts or thoughts about anything else. I had a good feeling about it. Of course, it’s a big club, and as far as I’m concerned, it all made sense.

Changing clubs halfway through the season is kind of strange. Normally, you’d do a pre-season where you make a new start, but in this case, you immediately have to get to work with big games ahead of you. It’s quite exciting when you’re in a new place, you don’t know the people and you have to get used to things, but I have to say that everyone at the club has been very helpful in making me feel at home. It’s a very warm club, and the fans are amazing. It really does feel great to be here.

Cody Gakpo in training on Monday
Cody Gakpo in training on MondayLiverpool FC via Getty Images

On his new team-mates

Playing with guys like [Mohamed] Salah and [Darwin] Núñez is fantastic, of course. It’s great to try and score goals together. I think we’re starting to get used to each other more and more every day. So, I think we’re going to be alright.

I think we’re getting more and more in sync. That’s just something that takes time. As I said, normally, it all happens during pre-season, when you have time to get to know each other, but in this case, we didn’t have that time, so things went a bit differently to usual.

Rush looking forward to 'incredible' Liverpool-Madrid showdown

On his skill set

What Liverpool can expect from me is, of course, my goals and my passing. I can take the game from midfield into attack. I can switch between the lines with the ball and then sprint towards goal. That’s one of my qualities, and that’s one of the things that I can give to this club.

I’ve been asked a lot before what my favourite position is. In the last three seasons, I’ve mostly played on the left, but during the World Cup, I also played more in the middle, as a No10. I think it’s just important that I play. When I play down the middle, I get more chances to move forward with the ball. That’s maybe less the case when I play on the left, but it’s not really a preference that I have. I’m just happy to play.

Champions League round of 16: Liverpool vs Real Madrid

On taking on Real Madrid

[The opening match is] a very important one. As they say in the Netherlands, the first blow is half the battle. If you can get off to a good start at home and win by as many goals as possible, your starting position for the second leg will be so much better. Of course, it’s never that easy, especially against Real Madrid, but that’s our aim, of course.

They have a very experienced, mature team and lots of individual quality, especially up front with [Karim] Benzema and Vinicius [Júnior] and in midfield with [Luka] Modrić and [Toni] Kroos. All of them are very good players. They’ve got lots of individual quality, but so have we. I think it could be a great game.

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