Signing Darwin Nunez watches Liverpool struggle from the bench

Signing Darwin Nunez watches Liverpool struggle from the bench

– Liverpool Darwin Nunez sat on the bench for 89 minutes as Liverpool’s faltering Premier League title hopes were dealt another blow by Brighton in a 3-3 penalty shootout.

The Uruguayan, who was acquired from Benfica for an initial 75-million-euro ($73 million, £66 million) sum that could increase to 100-million-euro, has been repeatedly benched by Jurgen Klopp in the early months of his Liverpool career despite the Reds’ shaky start to the season.

Liverpool have won only three of their first nine games of the season to slip 11 points off the pace in the Premier League and have work to do before Rangers’ visit to Anfield on Tuesday to reach the last 16 of the Champions League.

Liverpool defeated Manchester City in the Community Shield and salvaged a 2-2 draw against Fulham on the opening weekend of the season thanks to two goals from Nunez in his first two games.

Since August, when he was sent off on his home debut for a headbutt on Crystal Palace defender Joachim Andersen, he has not scored and has started only once.

 

Realizing Nunez’s potential is not the only problem Klopp must address.

He called the ease with which Brighton played through the Liverpool midfield as “horrific” and last month’s 4-1 Champions League loss to Napoli as a “horrific spectacle.”

The focus on Trent Alexander-defensive Arnold’s shortcomings has helped conceal Virgil van Dijk’s concerning decline in form.

There is still hope for Nunez that he may follow in the footsteps of Andy Robertson and Fabinho, who had to conform to Klopp’s demands for months before becoming pillars of the German’s Champions League and Premier League victories.

But the 23-year-slow old’s start has highlighted the high-wire act that Liverpool have performed under Klopp to consistently challenge Manchester City for the Premier League title and reach three Champions League finals in five seasons.

Little margin for mistake

During Klopp’s seven years at Anfield and Pep Guardiola’s six years as City manager, Liverpool has spent less than half as much on players as the English champions.

The Reds’ near-perfect recruitment has put them in contention for major trophies, especially last season when they were in contention for a quadruple until the final two games of the 63-game season.

Liverpool, however, has significantly less leeway for error in the transfer market than City, Manchester United, and Chelsea due to the desire of owners Fenway Sports Group to balance the books.

Already, it is being questioned whether the money spent on Nunez would have been better spent revitalizing an aging midfield.

However, Liverpool’s pleas of poverty will fall on deaf ears this week, as it is Rangers who are attempting to close a massive financial imbalance.

The original transfer fee for Nunez alone exceeded the Scottish giants’ total revenue of £54 million in the 2020/21 season.

Despite reaching the final of the Europa League last season, Rangers have found the transition to their first Champions League match in 12 years to be difficult.

In their first two games in Group A, Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s team have been defeated, allowing seven goals to Ajax and Napoli with no response.

“Ajax sold (players) for nearly £200 million, the most of any squad we’re currently competing against. Liverpool likewise “said Van Bronckhorst.

For us to compete with them is a tall order.

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