Arne Slot won't want Darwin Nunez back at Liverpool right now

-Credit: (Image: PA)
-Credit: (Image: PA)

Conventional wisdom dictates Arne Slot wants as many of his top stars with him as soon as possible this Liverpool pre-season.

But in the case of Darwin Nunez, it might even be the case that Slot is more than happy to continue seeing his No.9 operating thousands of miles away from Merseyside. For now, at least.

Nunez is currently with the Uruguay national team at the Copa America and expertly volleyed home in their tournament opener against Panama on Monday as they eased to a 3-1 victory.

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That strike was the Liverpool's star's ninth in his last six appearances for his national side, further showcasing the impressive strides he has made under the careful watch of Marcelo Bielsa, who took charge 13 months ago. Nunez is now averaging a goal every two games for his national side with a record that stands at 12 in 24.

The run for the in-form la Celeste star chimes dramatically with the sequence he put together in the final two months of the campaign for the Reds, where he was without a goal since early April.

"He's got to get back to basics," Robbie Fowler told the ECHO earlier this month. "Start rolling balls in, it doesn't have to be immaculate. People think you've come in for £60 or £70m and people are expecting everything to be hitting the top corners. Sometimes, you've just got to roll them in to the corners, not everything has to be extraordinary."

Nunez's contribution of 18 goals and 13 assists across all competitions was a respectable haul but his final effort of the campaign came on April 4, when a poor clearance from goalkeeper Ivo Grbic struck him on the backside in a 3-1 win over Sheffield United. An 11-game stretch without a goal or assist was how the South American ended his season under Jurgen Klopp.

“It’s all good when I can score goals,” Nunez said after he opened his account at the Copa America on Monday. “In the end, I will always miss goals. If I’m going to make five or 10 mistakes then I’m going to try 11 times. That’s what a striker has to do. Not be worried when he misses five, he has to keep trying and never give up.

“If he gives up nothing will work out. So it’s always important to start off with a win, and we all know that the first game of a tournament is always difficult, but we got the result here this time and so we are really happy and now try to grow from here.”

A player seemingly transformed under the guidance of the enigmatic and iconic Bielsa, Nunez's only shortcoming, according to his national boss at least, is an inability to remain consistent with his considerable talents.

That, Bielsa stresses, is the key to unlocking the obvious potential that convinced Liverpool to make Nunez a potential club-record transfer at an initial £64m plus £21m worth of add-ons.

"Darwin is a player who doesn't need any kind of support," Bielsa told a press conference, as translated by Sport Witness on Thursday.

"You have to know what it means to play for Liverpool and who he competes with, and what his cycles were like, when he converted, when he stopped converting, why he stopped converting. These are things that he manages in proportion to the place he occupies in the football world.

“The only thing that worries me is that he is able to do what he does in an extraordinary way as many times as possible, which is converting, defining, finishing the actions, choosing where he should direct the shot that provides the right conditions to execute it."

Nunez's Uruguay will continue their Group C campaign in the early hours on Friday when they come up against Bolivia. With Liverpool's No.9 heading into it in such blistering form and his confidence sky high, Slot may feel there is no real need to bring home his centre-forward anytime soon.

The chatter and debate has rarely abated where Nunez is concerned since he moved from Benfica two years ago but a goalscorer returning to Liverpool brimful of confidence after a positive Copa America could yet be hugely beneficial to Slot for the long term. That might just supersede a need for him to get to grips with the new coach and his ideas.