NewsJürgen Klopp on Darwin Nunez form: 'He's in a different moment'
Jürgen Klopp has detailed the changes that have enabled Darwin Nunez to flourish at Liverpool during the early part of this season.
The Uruguay international heads in to Sunday’s Premier League clash with Luton Town in excellent form, having scored or assisted in each of his last five games in all competitions, including netting the winning goal at AFC Bournemouth in the Carabao Cup last time out.
Having tallied 15 goals in his debut season on Merseyside, the 24-year-old is already on seven for this campaign - and speaking to reporters ahead of the trip to Luton, Klopp explained why things have started to change for the No.9.
Here’s what the boss had to say...
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Every angle of Nunez's Bournemouth stunner
On Nunez’s use as a centre-forward this season…
Darwin is No.9. He can play the wing as well and it all depends on how we want to work an opponent, where the space is, where you can unleash his full potential, things like this. The thing is, last year, especially when things did not go particularly well, it was super-important that everything was set up perfectly and we needed a No.9 who defended the centre perfectly in a way Darwin was not able to do then. Now he can.
Now we are set up slightly different with a different confidence level, we used the full pre-season to get used to that. In that moment, when we are defensively stable, then he has to play from the centre. It is to make sure we are compact but we don’t have to judge all the different options of the opponent where they could go through. We got used to Bobby [Firmino] and then Cody [Gakpo] stepped in really well and then all of a sudden Darwin’s first thing should be to stretch the formation and be there. The team needed stability there [last season].
On Nunez’s increased confidence this season…
It’s the riddle of the life of a striker. You have a few goals already and it makes it easier. He always will miss chances but if you miss the first five before you score it doesn’t feel great. Now he has had a good start to the season and he has scored fantastic goals, different goals, all kinds of goals. He’s in a different moment.
On whether Nunez makes this team a little more exciting than in the past…
It’s new. It’s just not fair if you [compare with previous teams]. We had a team who could have won the Champions League two more times, could have become [Premier League] champions again. Not ‘we should’ but ‘we could’. People want change in the right moment, you don’t want to change when you don’t need to and [then] people say, ‘Hey, why did we change?’ But obviously it was time. From the oldest midfield in the league to nearly the youngest in the league, it’s good. The players we brought in are all quality and different. Macca [Alexis Mac Allister] is a different number six to Fab [Fabinho]. Ryan [Gravenberch], Dom [Szoboszlai] and even Wataru [Endo] are different.
The most important thing is that we could train so long together and that we are stable. That we don’t concede and concede and concede is the most important thing. That’s where you build real confidence. Then you can show up offensively and then everything is alright. As a team then you don’t have to score from each chance. I love the team, it’s really cool and good to work with. Yes, the potential is there. Now we have to make sure together that we can make quality of it, consistent quality.
On Nunez’s potential going forward…
The speed, the finishing skills, the desire he has… when he’s fit he is really fit so he can go and go again. You just don’t know where he will end up. He came in for really big money. It shows again that players need time. We forget that. With Endo, just because of the age people think, ‘Why is he not like that?’ He is a different character to the other boys and you can see the steps he is making. He has another five years of top football in his legs. He has a lot of potential and he never played on this level before but now consistently I am really happy with him. So that’s the same story. People always say, ‘How long will it take?’ but Darwin is here, Darwin is fully here and it’s different. It’s good for him.