Written by Zack Oaten | @Zackoaten1
When Liverpool entered the tunnel at halftime, trailing 1-0 down to newly promoted Fulham. All eyes fell upon newly found super sub-Darwin Nunez who, just the week before, was brought on in the second half to secure the Community Shield in what was the perfect start to the season for the Reds.
After Sadio Mane’s departure earlier this summer, it seems ever more likely that his ex-strike partner Roberto Firmino will soon be looking towards the exit after his 7-year service at the club. The 30-year-old has won everything there is to win under manager Jurgen Klopp, a feat which encapsulates the Brazilians quality and fantastic contribution to the club over the years.
Despite Bobby’s contribution to the team overtime, as Liverpool’s squad ages and Klopp’s team selection shifts towards preferencing youth development rather than his older, more experienced players. It seems ever more likely that as Nunez is slowly phased into the squad, Firmino will be used to warm up the bench, which simply won’t suit a player of his calibre, especially considering the interest spiking from top clubs around Europe.
In both the Community Shield and against Fulham, Nunez entered the game just before the 60th minute and each time replaced Firmino. The Uruguayan showed his ability to come on and cause chaos around the penalty area which Firmino has lacked in recent times. Nunez seems to be on the end of every ball and finds gaps in between defenders which drags the entire defensive line towards him similar to a black hole, gifting a huge amount of space to the likes of Mohammed Salah and Luis Diaz.
However, although Liverpool suffered a disappointing draw against Marco Silva’s Fulham side, it would be naïve to say that Nunez should be starting against Crystal palace next week. Despite his excellent performance and stunning goal, Nunez still needs to work on reading his teammates moves and keeping up to speed with the Premier League. That work starts with observation and undergoing a through education from experienced players such as Firmino or Salah, rather than rushing him in.
Although pundits love Nunez, with the likes of Gary Lineker saying, “Very clear, from that goal alone, that he’ll score bundles. The movement of a goal-scorer.” To throw him into the side merely out of desperation to see the new signing shine would be reckless because much like any of Klopp’s big signings, it will take weeks to fully implement the 23-year-old within the team.
Fans will need to show patience and gratitude towards the system set in place for new signings, especially those who come from other nations which include sides who normally crumble under the strength of English opposition in European competition. Klopp’s preparation scheme is flawless. Luis Diaz and Ibrahima Konaté are recent examples of players who have come from foreign countries, took time to adapt and have flourished majorly overtime.
It is unquestionable that Nunez will thrive in a Liverpool side that is built around him and his playing style. But this takes time, and after a lacklustre draw against Fulham fans will need to be calm and understanding of a transfer and development structure proven to succeed.