Darwin Nunez is ready to make Everton regret it if they try to draw red mist from the Liverpool striker in Saturday’s Merseyside derby.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp threw his support behind the striker on the eve of the Goodison Park match, backing the player who was sent off on his Anfield debut to come back stronger from his ban.
Former Benfica frontman Nunez was red-carded in the 1-1 draw against Crystal Palace on August 15 when he headbutted Joachim Andersen, after a running battle with the defender.
Throwing Nunez into derby duty on his return from suspension may represent a gamble, and it remains to be seen whether Klopp starts with the 23-year-old in the battle for local bragging rights.
Klopp said Liverpool have instructed Nunez he must “calm down”, insisting the message has not needed to be constantly repeated for it to hit home.
“We told him that. Of course we told him not only now, but now especially,” Klopp said.
The Reds manager was pleased to hear former Liverpool striker Luis Suarez also warned Nunez, his fellow Uruguayan, to be wary of wind-up merchants in English football.
There will inevitably be cases where Nunez is targeted by opponents, whether or not he continues to show a volatile streak.
“That will happen, but it happens to others as well. We just have to ignore it,” said Klopp. “Our ideas on how we want to think in these situations is that we pay back, but with football.”
Looking at Everton’s centre-backs, Klopp said: “I don’t think James Tarkowski and Conor Coady are famous for too much of this kind of talking through the game.”
— Darwin Núñez (@Darwinn99) September 2, 2022
Liverpool followed a 9-0 trouncing of Bournemouth with a 2-1 victory against Newcastle United, secured by Fabio Carvalho’s stoppage-time goal, and Klopp must decide whether Nunez has to wait for a return to the starting line-up.
Klopp believes Nunez is good enough to exploit any chirping from defenders looking to get a rise out of the £64million man.
“If he plays, then he has to be ready for these kind of things, definitely, that’s clear,” Klopp said. “But when a player’s talking to you a lot, or is really physical, then he’s not in his own game, and he has to use these moments as well, if the other one is too busy with wanting to distract him.
“The two weeks [of suspension] helped for sure, you can see it. Will it never happen again? I don’t know, but I’m pretty sure nothing will happen in the next game.”
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