Liverpool must start giving more gametime to Darwin Nunez to help him adapt, according to a former player who feels that neither Diogo Jota nor Roberto Firmino are ‘particularly brilliant’.
Nunez became Liverpool’s record signing over the summer, when they spent big to bring him in from Benfica. It is taking a bit of patience to see him to justify his value, though. He has six appearances for the club to his name so far, but only two have been starts.
He has been a substitute for both of Liverpool’s Champions League games so far, coming on against Napoli and Ajax. Although Liverpool won the most recent of those games, Jurgen Klopp’s decision to start with Nunez on the bench has now been brought into question.
According to former Liverpool player Steve Nicol, Klopp has to start making more use of his new centre-forward.
In fact, Nicol believes Nunez is a more dangerous option than either Jota or Firmino. Besides, he can replicate the qualities that they bring.
“When I saw the team, the first thing I did was check the subs to see if Nunez had picked up an injury,” Nicol told ESPN FC.
“You’ve got to get the guy in, get him playing. Get him minutes on the field and get him in tune with everybody. And until you do that you won’t get the best out of him.
“As we all know, he’s not the finished article; he’s still very raw. But I think what he brings is completely different to what you get from Jota and what you get from Firmino. I think he gives you the two things they can’t do.
“Firmino is really about possession. I think if you can get him holding the ball up and starting to play with [Luis] Diaz and [Mohamed] Salah that Firmino does, I think he can do that. He just needs to get better at it and he can score goals because that’s pretty much what Jota is there for.
“He’s the little guy in the penalty box that’s supposed to pop up and put the ball in the net. Because I don’t think he’s particularly great when it comes to link-up play or holding the ball up.
Nicol wouldn’t want to play against Darwin Nunez
“You get him on the field and get him in tune with everybody. If I’m a defender, I do not want to play against him. I’d rather play against Jota or Firmino than play against him, absolutely every day of the week.
“This guy’s not going to get better unless he gets minutes on the field. I don’t think the other two are particularly brilliant so get him on.”
Nunez will not get the chance to breathe new life into his Liverpool career until after the international break. Their next fixture is against Brighton at Anfield on October 1.
It will be the start of an important stretch of games in which the 23-year-old may be hoping to play a bigger part.
With a contract until 2028, though, there is plenty of time for the former Almeria man to make a name for himself on Merseyside.
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