With the international break upon us and 10 points safely in the bag, Darwin Nunez remains the one man you can’t keep out of the action…and headlines. Despite being reduced to substitute appearances in the first three games of the season, this is Darwin’s world and we’re all just living in it.
A Lineage Of Late Heroics
We’ve been spoiled with great cameos down the years. From David Fairclough to Divock Origi, they’ve stamped themselves in those roles. Nunez’s late heroics at St. James’ Park might be a watershed moment for the Uruguayan. We could very well look back fondly at it for years to come.
With five world-class forward options at his disposal, Jurgen Klopp could be forgiven for his Darwin usage. He turned him into a bit of a caged animal in the opening weeks of the 2023-24 season. To leapfrog Cody Gakpo in the pecking order, something extraordinary had to happen against the Magpies. And that is precisely what Liverpool’s new No. 9 produced.
“The Darwin Game”
Nunez had 13 minutes plus stoppage time to give Jurgen Klopp a reason to select him against Aston Villa. The response of two game-altering goals couldn’t have been more emphatic. The reality is that Nunez and Gakpo, in terms of what they offer as footballers, are polar opposites.
As things stand with just one game a week thus far, Klopp has the luxury of picking his best eleven. No extensive tinkering is required. As fans, we have a natural urge to try to get into Jurgen’s head. Maybe if we dig deep enough we can decipher the pecking order for ourselves.
Mohamed Salah, barring injury or God forbid a move to Al-Ittihad, is the only man who has a secure place in the front three. That is unlikely to change any time soon.
Spreading The Wealth
The Europa League gets underway later this month. Thankfully, this will afford the opportunity to share minutes more generously. When that happens, Darwin Nunez and Cody Gakpo, along with Diogo Jota and even Luis Diaz, will have to force Jurgen Klopp’s hand to select them.
Nunez’s magic on Tyneside was the perfect example of what it might take. All five of the forwards have made bright starts to the season. Competition for places certainly looks to have facilitated that.
Chaos is a word that often is used to discuss what Darwin brings to the table. I feel this is a massive disservice. The implication is that he is a bull in a china shop going about his business with no real sense of direction or deliberateness. The picture it SHOULD paint is the manner in which he ties defenders up in knots with the unpredictability he brings to the attack. No opposition manager will want to see Darwin Nunez on the team sheet this season. There is a good reason for that.
The idea that he had a poor debut season is also something of a myth. Being sent off in his first Anfield appearance was one of several mitigating factors. Missing chances saw him fall out of favor towards the end of the campaign.
A return of 15 goals given all of the speed bumps is significantly better than he is given credit for. Joining the Premier League at the same time as the cyborg over at the Etihad certainly didn’t help.
Looking Forward For Our Forward
Darwin needs a regular run of starts for us to fully assess just how good he can be. Whether that is something Jurgen Klopp is willing, or able, to do given his attacking options remains to be seen. The fact that he is not Erling Haaland might frustrate some people. But to be fair even Mo Salah does that on occasions.
One thing you can guarantee is you won’t be able to take your eyes off of him. I for one can’t wait to see where the journey takes him!