Darwin Nuñez gave Liverpool a 3-1 win against Southampton with two goals, but that performance was at least as important for himself. The perception of the 23-year-old Uruguayan striker has suddenly changed: the bad buy of 80 million euros is now said to be a diamond in the rough, which Liverpool will enjoy a lot. For football fans all over the world, his top form is good news for the World Cup, where he can become a royal couple with Luis Suárez in Uruguay.
Timing is everything for a striker. While Manchester City paid 60 million euros for Erling Haaland, competitor Liverpool strengthened itself with Benfica sensation Darwin Nuñez. Price tag: 80 million euros. Suddenly the two million transfers were set against each other.
Darwin Nuñez had an unfortunate start at Liverpool. It already started in the preparation, when videos in which Nuñez missed opportunities in training and in exhibition games went viral. In his second league game for Liverpool, against Crystal Palace, he picked up a red card that cost him a three matchday suspension. Meanwhile, Haaland had already shaken the nets nine times at Man City in five league games.
Darwin Nuñez has already been compared to Andy Carroll, for whom Liverpool paid 40 million euros to Newcastle in January 2011, a staggering amount at the time. Not only because Carroll wore his raven black hair in a ponytail like Nuñez, but mainly because Carroll became a complete flop. In the meantime, Nunez has already scored 9 goals in 18 games, just two of Carroll’s 11 goals in a year and a half at Liverpool.
If we take into account that Nuñez often has to content himself with substitutions, his figures become really impressive. Every 88 minutes he is good for a goal or an assist. His 6.2 attempts per 90 minutes is the highest average since 2003-2004. Nuñez’s great strength is also his greatest weakness. He runs and burrows to pieces, plays football unpredictably and instinctively and therefore often manages to get into scoring position, but he also regularly misses opportunities.
“Still a lot of room for improvement”
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is full of praise for his young striker, who will replace Sadio Mane who left for Bayern Munich, although he also calls him a diamond in the rough that needs to be polished. “We all know that Darwin is a tremendous force offensively, he just needs to improve defensively,” Klopp said. “The attackers who play around him know that and adapt to him. If we ask Darwin to defend too much, he forgets to attack. So we give him the space to feel like a real striker. He was fantastic against Southampton, but there is still a lot of room for improvement.”
The Telegraph titled that Darwin Nuñez’s breakthrough for Liverpool comes at the wrong time. But not for the football fans. Nuñez could soon become one of the sensations at Uruguay, where he plays alongside experienced striker Luis Suarez.