Mark Lawrenson claims to have never played with a striker as wasteful in front of goal as Darwin Nunez during his seven years at Liverpool. But the Reds veteran is confident that the Uruguayan can become a Premier League force, advising manager Jurgen Klopp to introduce subtlety to his finishing.
Nunez arrived at Anfield under the weight of great expectations, which come naturally with an eye-watering £85million price tag. That’s considerably more than Manchester City paid for Erling Haaland, who landed at the Etihad Stadium in the same summer and scored a boatload more goals than his Liverpool counterpart last season.
It’s not all doom and gloom for the 24-year-old, however. Reds supporters have warmed to his unpredictable and exciting style of play, which has banked him seven goals in all competitions this term.
Nunez’s finesse in front of goal still leaves a lot to be desired, though. And Lawrenson, who made over 200 appearances for the Reds in the 1980s, is not impressed.
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“I was trying to think about anyone I played with at Liverpool who would miss as many chances as Darwin Nunez, but I can’t, there were two fellas called Ian Rush and Kenny Daglish,” he told Paddy Power.
“It’s just his style, isn’t it? Everything is 100 per cent and they’ll be working on his finishing in training and he needs a bit of subtlety. Everything has to be smashed into the net with Nunez, absolutely smashed. It was interesting when he missed that chance against Luton because he couldn’t smash that, and he had to be a bit deft.”
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Nunez’s other attributes still make him a handful for opposition defenders. The former Benfica ace is physically imposing at 6ft 2in and a supreme level of fitness allows him to make run after run, but it’s his searing pace which fills Lawrenson with the most confidence that a steady improvement could be on the cards.
“He’s horrible to play against because he’s lightning quick and that frightens defenders more than anything. More than dribbling or physicality because straight away they think they’ll get beat in a foot race. He’ll get there eventually but it’s going to take a bit of time.”
The Uruguayan marksman will get another chance to add to his Premier League haul against Brentford on Sunday – Liverpool’s final game before the international break.
Klopp will be desperate for a return to winning ways, with a 3-2 defeat against Toulouse in the Europa League making it two matches without a victory, having drawn at Luton Town last weekend.
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