Darwin Nunez has endured persistent questioning over his abilities and readiness for English top-flight football following his £64m move away from Benfica in the summer.
Despite initially struggling to make his mark on the Premier League, the Uruguayan international appears to have taken a few notable steps forward in his Liverpool career, earning him some comparisons to one of Jurgen Klopp’s former strikers, Robert Lewandowski.
Though, realising those comparisons may very well hinge on the player ignoring the constant probing supplied by the media and supporters.
“There are a lot of similarities to be honest. Yes, I think Lewy would tell the same story,” the 55-year-old told reporters at his pre-match press conference (via the Mirror).
“We had shooting sessions where he didn’t finish off one. We had bets all the time for 10 euros – ‘if you score more than 10 times I will pay you 10, if you don’t you have to pay me’.
“My pocket was full of money. It’s all about staying calm. When you see the potential, stay calm. It’s so difficult in a world we are living in. Because of you (the media) asking and making a big fuss of everything, then the supporters, social media and all these kind of things the more you can shut off that, the better it is.
“I think we all agree that the potential is so obvious. Is everything right? No.
“I think it’s clear when you see the second chance, the big chance in the second half (against Villa) he can run a little bit on an angle and then he has a free choice, all these kind of things. But it is all coming. You do it like this, the next time you do it like that.
“I had this situation with Lewy but it is not only Lewy. He is the obvious comparison, I understand. It’s just about staying calm and I am super calm. The team is calm as well, the team is completely convinced and that’s really cool. Let’s hope we all, him included, stay healthy and then everything will be fine.”
The 23-year-old has quite a lot of growth left to achieve to get close to the Poland star’s phenomenal goalscoring record, though the early signs certainly look positive.
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With 13 goal contributions in 20 games, keen-eyed fans will rightly point to Nunez possessing the exact same record as Bobby Firmino this term (albeit in one less game).
That’s no slight on the Brazilian’s abilities, though some may ask questions around what Liverpool have got in return for their £64m up front fee (not to mention the £21m worth of add-ons attached).
The value is, as Klopp’s comments prove, clear for the German tactician to see with the ex-Penarol hitman proving a constant threat in the box and supplying game-changing chances (as Stefan Bajcetic’s goal against Aston Villa highlights) even if not finishing them off himself.
Nunez isn’t the finished product but if he can continue to shut off all the white noise around him and take on the advice of his manager – you can bet your house on his numbers improving.
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