'We're working on it massively' - Jurgen Klopp outlines reasons behind Darwin Nunez's struggles in debut Liverpool season
- Nunez has had inconsistent first season
- Klopp highlights work needed on language
- Insists he is looking beyond current campaign
WHAT HAPPENED? The Reds' £85 million ($106m) summer signing has come under some unfair scrutiny during his first season in Merseyside, given his 15 goals and five assists in 37 matches across all competitions. Nunez has been guilty of some questionable finishing and rash decisions at both ends of the pitch, though, including a red card against Crystal Palace in only his second Premier League game. But Klopp has underlined the difficulties of adapting to life in a new country, as well as the struggles his entire team have endured.
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WHAT THEY SAID: "Darwin is a player with a different skillset to our other players – which is good," Klopp said in Friday's press conference. "He’s a real handful, a machine. He will score a lot of goals, and he’s scored a decent number already. But of course he’s still adapting. His English still isn’t great but we’re working on that massively. It’s not helpful to go through a debut season when it’s difficult for the whole team. How can a striker shine when the whole team is struggling? It’s not impossible but he’s had some super moments."
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Nunez was on target off the bench in Liverpool's 6-1 drubbing of Leeds last time out, as they aim to somehow close the nine-point gap to fourth-placed Newcastle with just eight games remaining. But with Nunez, Klopp admits he is looking beyond this somewhat forgettable season, adding: "He was injured in some moments, suspended in other moments. That’s not a problem at all. This is a long-term product. I understand that he wants to play desperately from the beginning but we have to find a way that really works for us again.
"I am completely fine with the situation. I understand that Darwin isn’t always fine. He doesn’t smile in my face when he realises he won’t start and says: 'Thank you, boss!' But when you have five or six players available up front you have to make decisions. That’s good. The door is miles open. He came on the other night and was exceptional. It was exactly the right way. With five games in the next two weeks, Darwin will start games – definitely."
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WHAT NEXT FOR NUNEZ? The Uruguayan forward will be hoping to get the nod when Liverpool host relegation-threatened Nottingham Forest on Saturday.