Hamann: Klopp’s Ideal Forward in Darwin Nunez Needs More Goals
Nunez signed a contract with Anfield in 2022 after scoring an incredible 34 goals in 41 appearances for Benfica in the 2021–2022 season, including 26 goals in just 28 Primeira Liga games to top the scoring rankings.
Nunez has been difficult to find consistency in the final third, despite Liverpool’s agreement to spend up to £85 million for his services.
If all performance-related add-ons are fulfilled, Nunez would become the Reds’ most expensive signing ever.
Nunez has a good eight goals and eight assists from 28 games in the 2023–24 season, however following his October goal against Nottingham Forest, he went eight games without a Premier League goal until scoring on Boxing Day against Burnley.
On New Year’s Day, Nunez indulged in his usual careless behaviour against Newcastle United. Despite having eight shots on goal and earning an Expected Goals (xG) total of 1.61—the highest for any player in a Premier League game this season—he was unable to break through Martin Dubravka’s net.
Nunez has consistently connected with Mohamed Salah, despite his well-known lack of ruthlessness.
In Monday’s 4-2 victory over the Magpies, the Egyptian scored his fifth goal of the 2023–24 Premier League season.
In Salah’s absence, perhaps he finds his scoring boots. It’s unfortunate that he doesn’t convert more because he produces a lot.
Although he has to score goals because he is a forward, Hamann noted, “people are patient with him because he creates so many chances.”
“He creates so many opportunities for himself; it’s commonly known that Liverpool creates more chances when he plays.
That stated, he needs to begin the conversion process. While his overall record isn’t horrible, he needs to score when he plays.
“Michael Owen, [Emile] Heskey, and [Robbie] Fowler were my teammates. If these men played, they would have scored.
Fernando Torres and Luis Suarez were both there, and you could always count on them to score in the following game even if they didn’t score at that point.
Nunez is not the case in that regard. He knows the game, and he had his transition period. Hopefully, he feels like he has a little more responsibility now that Salah isn’t around.
Nunez has been positioned at the forefront of Liverpool’s attacks much of the season, although he has also contributed assists from a wide role against West Ham United and Sheffield United.
Nunez’s explosive power has also been used occasionally at the left wing position.
While Nunez’s mobility and desire to play anywhere around the front line make him the “perfect forward” for Klopp, Hamann still maintains that Nunez is most suited for the central striking role.
“Normally, I would say through the middle for a guy his size, but because of his incredible speed, he has a little bit more room to play out wide.
In order to have a little more room to run into, he starts a little bit deeper to pick up the ball and possibly play a one-two,” Hamann continued.
Few centre forwards choose to play wide, but he’s a flexible player, so I don’t think it bothers him. It demonstrates what an excellent team player he is because, when he’s on his game, he’s nearly hard to stop.
“He’s probably the perfect forward player for Klopp, he does a job everywhere, the only thing he needs to do is score one or two more goals.”
Nunez is anticipated to start for the Reds in their thrilling FA Cup third-round match against Arsenal at the Emirates on Sunday.
However, in his three meetings with Mikel Arteta’s team during his stints at Benfica and Liverpool, Nunez has not yet emerged victorious.