Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has taken aim at criticism of Darwin Nunez after the new signing’s glaring miss in pre-season on Tuesday.
The Reds have made one of the statement signings of the summer transfer window by signing their new striker. The former Benfica star has cost Liverpool an initial £64million, but the fee could rise to a club-record £85million.
For the short term, Nunez is the marquee replacement for Bayern Munich-bound Sadio Mane. At the age of 22, though, Nunez still has lots of untapped potential.
The Uruguay international scored 34 goals for Benfica last season, including two against Liverpool in the Champions League. In his Reds debut against Manchester United on Tuesday, though, the striker missed a golden opportunity.
After Mohamed Salah hit the post – with David de Gea sprawling across to make a save – Nunez missed the subsequent rebound with the goal at his mercy. And the miss attracted traction on social media. Klopp, however, is not interested in the “game” from some observers.
“I’m not worried at all,” Klopp said when asked if he needed to reign in expectation on his new signing.
“The general judgement [on Nunez] is absolutely nil interest [to us]. It will be like this and we all know it.
“It’s kind of a game or a joke for some people to pick out some situations where a player’s not doing well. That’s only a game from [fans of] other clubs, which is normal.
“Our fans probably do [the same] with signings of Manchester United. We cannot take this seriously.”
Klopp calls for Nunez calm
Klopp added that he feels “completely convinced” about Nunez’s potential.
He stressed that “we should be the first ones to delete the fee we paid from our thinking” because “it’s not important”.
“It’s like this with strikers. He missed a chance and then there are some nervous people going, ‘oh my god, he missed a chance’. I can promise you it will not be the last,” Klopp concluded.
While Nunez arrives as a more traditional number nine than Roberto Firmino and Diogo Jota, he can also play out wide.
And wide play has been the hallmark of the exciting Liverpool attacking play under Klopp. Nunez can therefore provide such versatility.
Liverpool have new-look front line
Nunez will likely slot in through the middle of Klopp’s new-look Liverpool front line.
He will be flanked by January addition Luis Diaz and Mohamed Salah, who has signed a new contract.
That means Diogo Jota, who scored 21 goals last season, will have to fight his way into the team.
There is also the question of the role Roberto Firmino will play in what is likely his last season as a Liverpool player.
All in all though, Klopp is delighted with the summer business he has done with his front line.
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