Jürgen Klopp responds to Darwin Núñez speculation as Liverpool boss admits season 'regret'

Darwin Núñez runs during Liverpool's 3-1 win at Fulham last month.
Liverpool striker Darwin Núñez. -Credit:Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp has responded to the transfer speculation surrounding 18-goal forward Darwin Núñez, with Barcelona rumors having been rife this week. The Reds boss also revealed a regret about Harvey Elliott.

What's happened? Speaking ahead of facing Aston Villa on Monday, Klopp was asked about Núñez and where his future should lie. But he ruled out there being any suggestion of speculation about the player's future inside Liverpool, claiming that it is purely an outside conversation.

Klopp also outlined why he might look back at this season and feel that Elliott should have started more often. Used mostly as a substitute this season, the 21-year-old has been in exceptional form lately but he has only started nine Premier League games.

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There was no injury update ahead of the trip to Villa Park so it remains to be seen whether there are any other issues there. Diogo Jota is nearing a return but it isn't clear yet whether or not he will be back on Monday.

What's been said? "If I regret one thing, it is that Harvey [Elliott] maybe didn't play enough," Klopp admitted when asked about the number 19's performance against Spurs last weekend, in which he was excellent. "In January he played really good in an intense period. Then everyone came back and he didn't start."

"There is no speculation," Klopp said on Núñez. "That must be external speculation. It's just a situation we are in. Darwin was definitely not happy missing that chance [against Tottenham]. He was unlucky in so many situations where he is doing everything right, and the ball still doesn't go in.

"That's really tough for a young man and he's going through it right now. Everybody has to go through this. You help him if you can but it's part of a footballer's career. His problem is he is that good he is constantly in those moments — if he wasn't, then he wouldn't be [under the microscope for missing chances]."

What does it mean? The speculation around Núñez will continue. While Klopp might not be aware of it, the Uruguayan is a divisive figure and his social media activity was never going to go unnoticed. Núñez has caused Aston Villa problems before so there is a strong argument for him starting on Monday, while it sounds like Elliott should be confident of getting another start too.