'Nobody knows' Nunez potential but Klopp impressed by 'incredible' response to Palace 'knock'

Jurgen Klopp has "no idea" how good Darwin Nunez could become but believes the Liverpool forward's output so far has been "incredible" considering the "knock" of his early suspension.

Nunez was Liverpool's big-money pre-season signing, arriving from Benfica for a fee that could reportedly reach £85million (€100m).

The 23-year-old enjoyed a flying start to life in England, scoring from the bench against both Manchester City and Fulham, but his first appearance in the starting XI was cut short by a red card against Crystal Palace that prompted a three-match ban.

As a result, Nunez has still only played 636 minutes for Liverpool in late October, although he has been in the thick of the action when he has been on the pitch.

The Uruguay forward has six goals and an assist, and he might have added more; he is averaging 6.4 shots per 90 in open play, almost double second-placed Liverpool star Mohamed Salah's 3.3.

Including chances created and contributions to build-up play, Nunez has been involved in 8.1 attacking sequences per 90 in open play – another leading mark among Liverpool players.

He has marginally underperformed his 6.4 expected goals, even if his expected goals on target value – calculated from the quality of the attempt rather than the quality of the chance – of 6.6 suggests his finishing has not largely been at fault.

Those numbers might easily be ignored in the face of some of the more eye-catching misses, as Nunez has converted only four of his 14 'big chances', from which Opta would expect a player to score.

Speaking ahead of Saturday's game against Leeds United, Klopp listed a range of factors that would suggest a tough first season for Nunez, meaning he is willing to forgive those occasional failings in front of goal.

"Darwin came here after a short break in the summer, arriving in Asia, doesn't speak a word [of English], and he's young, and Liverpool's a big club, and it's a big step for him, and he was expensive," Klopp said. "All these kinds of things.

"It's like everybody's looking at you – the whole place is dark and there's one light that's a spot on you. You have to deal with that, but we don't expect them to deal immediately. If you cause it, then you have to be prepared, but he did not."

After the red card, Klopp said: "He feels embarrassed for himself, definitely – that's how everybody would react.

"From not being 100 per cent confident, getting a knock like this is not cool. He can blame nobody else. Then he has to start new."

However, his manager added: "For all these things, his numbers are incredible, to be absolutely honest.

"You talk about the xG of Leeds, I'm pretty sure his xG is high as well. He had a few chances, which he missed, but he scored as well. He's involved in a lot of finishing moments.

Darwin Nunez
Darwin Nunez

"The steps he's made are really big, and that means automatically that he settles in more and more."

With Nunez so impactful even while passing up such opportunities, his potential with a little more work is "so exciting".

"Nobody knows [how good he can be]; he doesn't know," Klopp said. "That is so exciting.

"He has to stay fit and be available all the time, and he wasn't against Nottingham [Forest]. That's all important in the life of a professional football player.

"We have to work on all different areas. The potential is incredible. It's not only speed; the attitude is really good, he's a real worker.

"There are people out there who, technically, not sure, first touch... it's incredible. He does not bring it on the pitch in the moment all the time. His first touch might be here or there sometimes, but it's nothing to do with technique. It's just a bit too late, awareness, orientation, all these kinds of things.

"It's all possible to develop and learn, and that's where we are at. It's really exciting. But where it could go? I have no idea."