In Focus: Nunez can help Klopp put the Kop on top

Khyfer Seahra
LiveScore
14/06/202218:39
Darwin Nunez could turn out to be Liverpool's new record signing
Darwin Nunez could turn out to be Liverpool's new record signing

Liverpool have sealed the signing of striker Darwin Nunez from Benfica in a deal worth up to £85million.

The goal machine set the Portuguese top flight alight last term and put in some impressive performances in the Champions League.

We look at what he can bring to Jurgen Klopp's Reds and how he will adapt to life in the Premier League.

Rising star

Nunez, 22, signed for Benfica for a club-record fee of just over £20m from Almeria in September 2020 and also is set to become Liverpool's most expensive recruit.

It took a little bit of time for him to adapt to life with the Eagles after moving from the Spanish second division but he still netted 14 times and provided 11 assists in 43 appearances in all competitions in his first campaign.

He had a rough start to 2021-22 thanks to a knee injury that required surgery and subsequently missed Benfica’s Champions League qualifying rounds and first two league fixtures.

But it only took until his third game last term to find the net as he went on to bag a brace in back-to-back matches.

And the Uruguayan finished his season with an astonishing 34 goals in just 41 appearances.

Klopp's new crown jewel was able to replicate his stunning form in the Champions League, managing six goals in 10 matches.

Despite being paired with Bayern Munich and Barcelona in Group E, Benfica stormed into the knockout phase with the help of Nunez’s clinical finishing.

The talisman found the net twice against Barca and once against Bayern, despite only being on the pitch for 26 minutes at the Allianz Arena, and went on to score a vital goal at Ajax in the last 16.

Nunez impressed in front of his future employers in the quarter-finals, scoring both home and away before his side eventually lost 6-4 on aggregate.

His performances on the European stage should have the Anfield faithful excited for next season. 

Anfield arrival

Klopp needed to ensure Liverpool signed a prolific centre forward this summer with Bayern Munich chasing Sadio Mane and Divock Origi destined for AC Milan. 

Manchester City’s signing of scoring sensation Erling Haaland was also a huge statement of intent.

And with only a point separating Pep Guardiola and Klopp’s sides at the top of the table last season, Liverpool cannot afford to lose sight of the Citizens.

Darwin Nunez's touch map from last season's Champions League campaign shows he is not a typical centre forward
Darwin Nunez's touch map from last season's Champions League campaign shows he is not a typical centre forward

Nunez mainly operates as a centre forward but likes to engage in link-up play in deeper positions and drift in and around the box.

He can also play on the left flank and was very effective there last season, netting 10 goals in just five games.

With the Liverpool squad ageing in some areas, it is vital they bring in young talent — and Nunez perfectly fits this profile.

Adaptation

Liverpool will hope Nunez will not need much time to adapt to life in England.

Luis Diaz has had no problems settling into the squad since arriving from the Portuguese top flight in January and looks set to evolve into an integral player for years to come.

If Nunez can follow in his footsteps, the Merseysiders will be firing on all cylinders from the get-go next season.

Standing at 6ft 2in, the hitman netted six headed goals last season and will look to feast on the quality of crosses that Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson produce so consistently.

Nunez has a lean build and strong physical presence with a great burst of acceleration, as highlighted by recording the second-fastest top speed of any player in the Champions League last season behind Alphonso Davies.

Darwin Nunez coolly finished past Liverpool's Alisson at Anfield in the Champions League last season
Darwin Nunez coolly finished past Liverpool's Alisson at Anfield in the Champions League last season

He demonstrated his pace at Anfield as he raced clear to finish past Alisson — displaying the traits of a forward ready to face the Premier League’s best.

Nunez draws comparisons to the likes of Edinson Cavani and Diego Costa, both of whom regularly bullied defences and enjoyed successful careers at the highest level.

Having undergone knee surgery last season, Liverpool will be slightly concerned how he will immediately cope with the intensity of the English top flight.

But with the amount of quality around him, there is no reason why Nunez cannot create a legacy under Klopp at Anfield.

Tags

Premier LeagueDarwin NunezLiverpoolBenfica
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