Jurgen Klopp, the manager of Liverpool, explains the situation to Darwin Nunez, whom he describes as a ‘long-term project’ at the club
Jurgen Klopp has hinted as to why Darwin Nunez has been left out of Liverpool’s starting lineup in recent weeks.
The Uruguayan came off the bench to score in the Reds’ 6-1 win over Leeds United on Monday, but it was the striker’s third appearance as a substitute in the Reds’ last four games.
After missing the March international break due to an ankle injury, it was initially assumed that the 23-year-old was being managed with caution. Nunez was benched against Arsenal after returning to the starting XI against Chelsea earlier this month.
Speaking ahead of his side’s home match against Nottingham Forest, Klopp admitted that the striker, who is still learning English after joining from Benfica for £64 million last summer, isn’t entirely satisfied with his current role. However, the German explained his reasoning for using Nunez recently as Liverpool looks to finish the season strongly.
“Darwin is a player with a different skill set than the rest of our team. That’s fantastic, that’s fantastic,” Klopp told reporters. “He’s a real handful, a machine, and he’s going to score a lot of goals.”
“He’s already got a decent number of goals.” That’s fine, but, of course, he’s still adjusting. His English is still mediocre, if it exists at all. We are working very hard on it.
Going through a difficult debut season for the entire team is not beneficial. How can a striker stand out when the rest of the team is struggling? That’s not possible, but he had some fantastic moments for us. However, he was injured at times and suspended at others. That’s not helpful, but it’s not a problem.
“This is a lengthy project.” I understand that he is desperate to play from the start. That’s all right. But we must find a way to make it truly work for us again.
“And then we have to fit in the players who have specific strengths that we can use.” I am completely content with the situation, but I recognize that Darwin is not always content. But it’s not that he smiles at me when he realizes he’s not going to start. ‘Thank you very much, boss.’
“It isn’t like that, but it is perfectly fine.” That is how we must handle the situation. I have to make decisions when we have five or six players available upfront. That’s great. That’s great, and it should stay that way. Then we’ll see what happens.
“Boys, the door is wide open. The more sessions we have, the more opportunities you will have to attend.
“He came on against Leeds and was outstanding.” He was outstanding. Not only did he score the goal, but he also scored before that. He was simply outstanding. It was the ideal method.
“Everyone who came on stage was on fire.” That is exactly what we require. We have five games in two weeks, and Darwin will undoubtedly start them.”
Nunez has been used primarily on the left wing by Klopp since the mid-season World Cup in Qatar, after spending the majority of the season in his preferred central attacking role.
And Klopp insisted that the forward is equally effective in either position, before admitting that Nunez’s English needs to improve.
“He’s a centre-forward who plays on the left when he’s on the left,” he explained. “That’s the way it is. It requires a specific setup in which he can play and defend in the center. That’s the way it is.
“Playing in the center is no problem; he’s a machine there.” Then we must ensure that we understand as a group. We weren’t stable for a long time this season.
“On top of everything else, the boys have to adjust to different defending and a different striker up top.” If football were that simple, you’d just put the 11 players with the most potential on the field and hope for the best. You do not.
“It’s about fine-tuning it, which we’re still doing.” We don’t know where this season will end up, but there will be another season after this one. And I’m thinking the same thing. We must build on what we are doing and learning now.
“We learned a lot of things that we didn’t want to learn.” Perhaps we now have the opportunity to learn a few useful skills. That’s the way I see it. That implies that everything is in order.
“He can play both positions 100% of the time and really well.” He’s already done it for us. I’m perfectly fine.