Darwin Nunez fell wanting the expectations his £85 million price ticket demanded. Despite arriving for a membership report final summer season and impressing within the Community Shield, his transfer to Anfield has been overshadowed by Manchester City’s new celebrity Erling Haaland.
However, by most different stats, his debut marketing campaign at Anfield was encouraging. He scored 15 and assisted 4 throughout Liverpool’s inconsistent season.
There is a name for much more encouragement for the Reds followers after the 24-year-old’s spectacular pre-season. While scoring 4 targets in three video games, Nunez has proven important enchancment in his play-building and decision-making in attacking conditions.
Nunez wouldn’t be the primary participant to idiot the footballing public with putting pleasant performances. Twelve months in the past, his four-goal volley in a 5-0 win in opposition to RB Leipzig added to the aforementioned pleasure over his signing.
But after a 12 months of getting used to a brand new nation and a brand new philosophy of soccer, can Liverpool’s new No. 9 lastly make the large leap many have been anticipating?
Darwin Nunez scored in every of Liverpool’s first three pre-season video games this summer season
Nunez inherited Liverpool’s iconic quantity 9 shirt following the departure of Roberto Firmino
Jurgen Klopp has a number of high-quality attacking choices at his disposal within the upcoming marketing campaign
The battle for locations in Liverpool’s entrance three can be fierce subsequent season with Diogo Jota, Luis Diaz, Cody Gakpo, Mohamed Salah and Darwin Nunez battling for a beginning spot.
Klopp will little question get choice complications throughout the marketing campaign, however will finally be grateful to decide on between a spread of gifted forwards.
However, for any particular person – with the potential exception of Salah – solely near-perfect performances guarantee a long term on the crew.
And that can be due largely to their manufacturing in each attacking and defensive phases of the sport, Klopp stated.
“The ticket for the team will be a willingness to defend,” the German informed reporters on Sunday after the Reds’ 4-0 win over Leicester City. “I’ve by no means heard of a crew being actually profitable with sloppy defending. It’s not taking place.’
Nunez is certainly not a foul defender and he recurrently makes use of his unmatched pace to chase opponents when a lack of possession happens, however the ex-Benfica striker isn’t fairly as spectacular as his primary rival for centre-forward, Gakpo.
The Netherlands worldwide bought off to a flying begin following his arrival from PSV in January 2022, displaying a talent set that might permit him to inherit Roberto Firmino’s false-9 position.
According to Fbref, Gakpo is within the 99th percentile for tackles per 90 (1.64), eighty fifth percentile for interceptions per 90 (0.36), and 76th percentile for blocks per 90 (0.82) in comparison with different forwards.
Nunez, however, ranks within the forty fifth, fiftieth, and 52nd percentile throughout the three stats, attaining solely 64 p.c completion final season in comparison with Gakpo’s 76.
As a consequence, the Dutch attacker usually bought the eye as the middle of the assault, with Nunez on the left facet of a entrance three.
Liverpool trumped rivals Man United with the signing of Cody Gakpo from PSV Eindhoven for £44 million
Gakpo scored seven targets after his arrival, together with a brace in a 7-0 destruction of Man United
This configuration labored most spectacularly in Liverpool’s 7-0 demolition of Man United in March, the place the 2 teamed as much as wreak havoc on Erik ten Hag’s defence, grabbing a brace every.
But with Diaz’s return from a long-term knee damage, many would count on the Colombian to return to the left-wing place he took on in a stunning run on the finish of the 2021-2022 season.
Like Nunez, Diaz has been trying good in pre-season after inheriting an iconic jersey quantity this summer season. While his return to the primary crew final season coincided with the crew’s efficiency falling aside.
However you take a look at it, Nunez must do his job to recurrently safe a beginning place within the present type of the crew.
At the second, he and Jota could be the almost certainly candidates to overlook the opening Premier League sport in opposition to Chelsea on August 13.
Next season, Liverpool are anticipated to play a 4-3-3 formation that turns into a 3-4-3 in possession as Trent Alexander-Arnold strikes into midfield and varieties a double pivot with the deepest midfielder.
The current departures of Jordan Henderson and Fabinho, the issue of discovering a top-flight quantity 6 and the variety of glorious forwards on the membership may see the Reds boss utilizing a system first deployed in opposition to Man City on the Etihad in 2020.
In a 1-1 draw, Liverpool began 4-2-3-1 with Firmino within the quantity 10 alongside Sadio Mane and Jota with Salah enjoying prime. But with the ball, the system turned a daring 4-2-4 with solely Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum masking the defence.
Luis Diaz is now absolutely match once more after lacking a lot of final season with a knee damage
Diogo Jota has additionally produced spectacular performances this summer season, scoring three targets
A missed penalty from Kevin de Bruyne noticed the then defending Premier League champions go away the Etihad by some extent and whereas Klopp rapidly returned to his most well-liked tactic, nearly three years later it may very well be key to harmonizing the present squad’s imbalance .
The Anfield membership have two pre-season video games left earlier than their journey to Stamford Bridge in opposition to German opposition Bayern Munich and Darmstadt.
Klopp’s sweeping adjustments in every half of their earlier three friendlies have been a transparent indication of his concentrate on health, however Wednesday’s sport in opposition to the Bavarian giants may lastly reveal his grasp plan for the season forward.
After bettering his linking sport, defensive work and understanding of English – if we are to believe fragments of behind-the-scenes training videos – Nunez has put himself in place to be the quantity 9 in additional than title alone.