Darwin Nunez first pulled on a Liverpool shirt as a member of Jurgen Klopp’s team two weeks ago, and the Uruguayan star is set to send ripples through the Premier League (and its nets).
But what should we expect to see from Nunez in the short- and long-term at Anfield? Nunez, 23, is a heck of a talent with power, speed, and skill, but he’s not a like-for-like version of Roberto Firmino in (or prior to) his prime.
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That’s not to say we can reasonably expect that Nunez won’t become, say, a more consistent passer or that he will instantly look as good in the Premier League as he did at Benfica, but it certainly appears he could represent a change in how the Reds will attack foes in the 2022-23 season and beyond.
Watch the video above to hear Joe Prince-Wright, Nick Mendola, and Andy Edwards break down how the Reds may be different with their latest Uruguayan center forward atop their attack.
How will Darwin Nunez fit into Liverpool’s attack?
Nunez scored 34 goals and chipped in four assists in 41 matches across all competitions, impressing on the continental stage with two goals against Barcelona and two more against Liverpool plus one each versus Bayern Munich and Ajax.
But he was a double-double guy the year before, putting a dozen assists on his record to go with 14 goals across the 2020-21 season.
Here’s the thing, though: Nunez only averaged 13.1 passes per game in 2020-21 and 14.3 per contest last season, completing under 70 percent of those meager offerings.
Firmino averaged 36.1/match in 2020-21 and completed 80.7%. Diogo Jota 21.3/game and 74.9%. Nunez’s key passes were, however, similar to the pair above.
He’s also going to shoot more, too. While there are more shots to go around at a club like Liverpool under a manager like Klopp, Firmino was an elite enabler of more self-oriented players like Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.
The Reds may be more dangerous with Nunez at center forward, but it may often be more direct. And while there were games that Mane and Firmino seemed to defer to Salah, targeting the big center forward will likely be far more in focus this season.
And, frankly, that could serve to free up the wingers and midfielders for more dangerous chances. They just might not come in the tiki-taka fashion we’ve come to expect with Firmino, Salah, Mane and their pals finding small openings for rapid-fire, one-or-two-touch magic.