Darwin Nunez: The evolution of Liverpool’s latest match-winner

Liverpool signed Darwin Nunez from Benfica last summer for a fee of around £64 million and the cost of the operation could rise to £85 million depending on add-ons.

Darwin Nunez could well be a club-record signing for the Reds. The Uruguayan international had a mixed start to life in English football, scoring 15 goals across all competitions last season, as he struggled to stamp his authority.

Although the South American forward managed to show glimpses of his obvious quality last season, he was lacking in consistency and sharpness. The 24-year-old had plenty of opportunities to add to his tally of 15 goals last season. But he was quite wasteful in front of goal.

While there is no doubt that the Uruguayan international is a prodigious talent, the hefty pricetag weighed heavily on the player. Having spent a substantial amount of money on the striker, Liverpool needed to get the best out of him and the Uruguayan international has certainly stepped up this season.

The 24-year-old has transformed himself into a match-winner for Liverpool this season.

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Nunez has four goals and two assists to his name across seven matches in all competitions. The Uruguayan striker has scored match-winning goals against the likes of Newcastle United, and he made a big difference in Liverpool’s last Premier League game against West Ham United as well.

The 24-year-old striker has clearly gained a lot more confidence and sharpness from last season, and his transformation into Liverpool’s latest match-winner was best encapsulated by Jurgen Klopp’s post-match comments after the win over West Ham.

The Liverpool manager explained how Nunez has added some much-needed quality for Liverpool in the final third. The German tactician also heaped praise on the 24-year-old for his defensive work, with his work-rate coming under the spotlight.

Klopp revealed that Nunez was always a hard-working player, but he was not in tune with his teammates last season. Nunez’s defensive work has been a lot more synchronised this season and Liverpool have certainly benefited from that.

“[He has made] massive steps in the last few weeks,” the Liverpool manager told reporters.

“He’s a threat. You all saw the goal, it was probably pretty good, right? That was really strong. He was always available for us. It’s super important that we have now kind of a ball-player. Chip the ball, get it on the chest, from there – like we scored the third [against] Wolves for example, I think it was a similar situation – it’s super important for us.”

“And the defensive work he puts in now, that’s probably the main difference. He always wanted it, but he was less coordinated. Now it looks much better, we found a way that we can do it around him.”

The 24-year-old has proven himself to be more than just a goalscorer. His ability to press the opposition into mistakes, the ability to link up with his teammates and carve out goalscoring opportunities with his runs in behind the defence has added a new dimension to the Liverpool attack.

Klopp used Cody Gakpo as the club’s first-choice striker during in the second half of last season, because of his overall footballing ability. The Dutch international did well to link up with his teammates and bring others into the game. While Nunez had stellar quality, the Uruguayan international was certainly missing the ability to knit the play together.

It seems that the Uruguayan international has worked on that side of his game, and has transformed himself into a complete forward this season. The 24-year-old will be desperate to justify his pricetag this season and judging by his start to the new campaign, he is well on his way to establishing himself as one of the best young attackers in the Premier League.

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