HomeLijnders backs Nunez to succeed at Liverpool

Lijnders backs Nunez to succeed at Liverpool

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Liverpool assistant manager Pep Lijnders believes Darwin Nunez is improving and expects goals will soon follow for the Uruguay striker.

Nunez, who joined Liverpool from Benfica in June 2022 for a fee that could rise to a club-record £85million, has shown glimpses of his ability in England but his record of 13 goals in 45 Premier League appearances is underwhelming.

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The 24-year-old gave another performance high on industry but low on goal threat during Sunday’s drab 0-0 draw with Manchester United at Anfield, prompting more question marks around his suitability for the English game.

Lijnders, however, says Nunez is a key player for boss Jurgen Klopp and he’s confident the goals will soon start to flow.

Speaking ahead of tomorrow night’s EFL Cup quarter-final against West Ham, he said: “Darwin is full of desire. If we only judged players on goals, that would be so unfair. It’s always the collective.

“There is a good connection between Mo [Salah] and Darwin, for example. I feel he is having a much better season than last year. The way he defends for the team, chases back, counter press… We can play with him as a reference.

“I like him a lot and he is full of fire and that is what our stadium likes. If you create a lot, the goals will come naturally. Sometimes you just have to be a little bit lucky.”

The weekend stalemate saw Liverpool slip to second in the table behind Arsenal, and also reinforced the view that perhaps they are not yet ready to challenge for the title following a summer rebuild.

Lijnders says it’s a work in progress but feels this team has an “unbelievable future”.

He added: “There are two expectations. What the people think and what we think.

“We started the season wanting to create new memories, special games, a team that can beat the best teams in the world.

“We don’t have to be the best team, we want to beat the best teams. This is the mentality.

“Underneath all the talks and discussions after the United game, underneath this team is growing and growing. You feel that in everything. How they are together, how they train and how they pushed Manchester United for the first 30 minutes so they can’t come out.

“We coaches and the manager all feel this and that’s something we want to build on. It takes time to build a good team and drill a good team to feel better connected and know our game inside out.

“We are really happy with the team in front of us. I hope that Anfield is happy as well because this team has an unbelievable future, in my opinion.”

There was good news for Lijnders and Klopp with midfielder Ryan Gravenberch potentially available for the festive fixtures despite coming off against United with what appeared at the time to be a muscle strain.

“We thought there was really something, he came off during the game and you saw immediately when he came off what that did to the team as well, he was playing really well,” said Lijnders.

“He had a scan and it’s only DOMS [delayed onset of muscle soreness], which is fatigue, so that’s a really good thing. He will train hopefully today, let’s see where he is. We have to be careful of course because that’s a sign.”

Liverpool will be without Argentina World Cup winner Alexis Mac Allister and Diego Jota against the Hammers.

Jon Fisher
Jon Fisher
Jon has over 20 years' experience in sports journalism having worked at the Press Association, Goal and Stats Perform, covering three World Cups, an Olympics and numerous other major sporting events.

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