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Darwin Nunez has given Arne Slot decision to make and Liverpool future could depend on it

Darwin Nunez of Liverpool during the Premier League match against Wolverhampton Wanderers at Anfield on May 19 2024
-Credit: (Image: James Baylis - AMA/Getty Images)


It was a season that began with an iconic image and ended with talk of many more being deleted from social media. And now the eventful Liverpool career of Darwin Nunez appears laced with greater uncertainty than ever before.

For the second campaign in succession, Nunez found his starting opportunities limited during the closing weeks after falling behind a rejuvenated Cody Gakpo in the attacking pecking order.

Matters were different last summer when the Uruguayan's performances during the warm-up programme pointed to a corner having been turned after a solid if not spectacular debut campaign following his arrival from Benfica in June 2022.

End-of-season ratings:

Alisson Becker

Trent Alexander-Arnold

Ibrahima Konate

Luis Diaz

While that wasn't enough to earn a starting role in the opening games, Nunez sounded his intention by stepping off the bench to score twice late on and earn a memorable and season-shaping win at Newcastle United in August, his pointed celebration towards the home fans cementing his position as a favourite among Liverpool supporters.

That brace sparked the forward. Come Christmas, he was the clear first-choice central striker and had delivered seven goals and as many assists. And the next few months were even more profitable with 16 goal contributions, the highlight of which was his dramatic late winner at Nottingham Forest in March.

Nunez's season, though, had already taken a step backwards. Injury after scoring a superb goal at Brentford ultimately ruled him out of the League Cup final and caused niggling issues for weeks afterwards. He wasn't quite as sharp after losing his momentum and rhythm.

And missed chances in disappointing outings at Manchester United and Everton in April as Liverpool's title challenge faltered prompted unrest in the stands and abuse on social media, prompting Nunez to wipe almost every Liverpool-related image from his Instagram account in response. That the Uruguayan's curious body language during Klopp's leaving guard of honour was noted by supporters also did him no favours and prompted talk of discontent at Liverpool that has subsequently persisted, although Nunez's latest comments have effectively ended such talk.

A new boss, though, can represent a fresh start. And the priority for head coach Arne Slot will be in which position Nunez should be playing. Having been employed both on the left and down the middle during his first season, the 24-year-old started only twice on the wing this season one of which he switched to a central position in the second half when scoring twice at Bournemouth.

The Copa America will either rejuvenate Nunez for the new season at Liverpool or provide a shop window for his possible sale. Regardless, discovering how to extract the best from the Uruguayan will be pivotal for Slot this summer. It will, however, be intriguing to see Liverpool's response should a big-money offer be forthcoming during the transfer window.

End-of-season rating: 6