Saturday, June 3, 2023

Klopp backing ´long-term project´ Nunez to succeed at Liverpool: ´He´s still adapting´

SoccerNews in English Premier League 21 Apr 2023


Jurgen Klopp says Darwin Nunez is “a long-term project” at Liverpool and insists the striker is “still adapting” to life with the Reds.

The Uruguay international, who moved to Anfield from Benfica ahead of this season for an initial fee of £64million, has scored 15 goals in 37 appearances during his debut season with Liverpool, who are eighth in the Premier League and nine points off the top four.

Although, Nunez has found game time hard to come by in recent times, starting just one of the Reds’ last four matches, with Klopp opting for a front three of Mohamed Salah, Cody Gakpo and Diogo Jota.

But the Reds boss, who will be without Roberto Firmino for the visit of Nottingham Forest on Saturday due to a muscle injury, insists the 23-year-old will get plenty of opportunities between now and the end of the season.

“Darwin is a player with a different skill set to our other players, which is good,” Klopp said during his pre-match 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.

“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.

“He was injured in some moments, suspended in others. This is a long-term project.

“I understand that he wants to play desperately from the beginning, but we have to find a way that really works for us again and then fit in the players we can use with the specific strengths.

“I am completely fine with the situation and I understand that Darwin isn’t always fine. He doesn’t smile in my face when he realises he won’t start and say: ‘thank you, boss’.

“But when you have five or six players available up front, you have to make decisions. 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.”

With Luis Diaz also returning to fitness in recent weeks, what must Nunez do to give himself the best opportunity to regain his place in the starting line-up?

“The ticket into this team must be and will be counter-pressing,” Klopp added. “We had so many games where I didn’t like that, and it’s a pretty strict thing.

“All five available now can do it pretty well. If you do it in a game you play, then you’ll have a good chance of starting again.

“We have opportunities to change and with five games in the next two weeks, there will be changes. Everyone will play, everyone is super important to us.

“But the ticket will be the desire to win the ball back after we’ve lost it, because we had so many times when that made the difference in games. It’s super important against deep-defending sides.”


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