‘He needs a big pre-season’ – Columnist unfavourably compares Liverpool player to ex-EPL flop

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Columnist Tony Cascarino has compared Liverpool striker Darwin Nunez to one former Premier League flop and said that the Uruguayan has a lot to prove ahead of next season.

The 23-year-old has a tally of 15 goals from 42 games in his first year at Anfield, having joined from Benfica for an initial £64m, potentially rising to £85m (BBC Sport).

It’s far from a disgraceful return, but he’s had to ship plenty of criticism from some quarters, and it seems there are still some big doubters.

In his latest column for The Times, Cascarino wrote: “This is a huge summer for Liverpool. Some big names will leave, they need new faces and they’ve got a major issue to resolve: Darwin Núñez.

“He’s had the odd moment where it’s clicked but with Luis Díaz and Diogo Jota back he looks nowhere near the starting XI. Cody Gakpo is also ahead of him in the pecking order.

“I hope I’m wrong but he’s reminding me of Timo Werner at Chelsea — lots of running, effort and promise but ultimately falling short. He needs a big pre-season with lots of goals.”

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Even though there’s been a rush to paint Nunez as a flop for Liverpool, a wider look at his numbers this season presents a much different picture.

He’s netted 15 goals in 2,365 minutes on the pitch for the Reds. That’s just one fewer than Diaz, Gakpo and Jota have managed between them in 4,451 minutes combined (Transfermarkt).

Nine of the Uruguayan’s tally have come in the Premier League, with Werner getting 10 across two campaigns (Transfermarkt), which again puts into context that the 23-year-old has been nowhere near as profligate as some have suggested.

As followers of Portuguese football would tell you, Nunez hit 14 goals in his first season with Benfica in 2020/21 before exploding the following year with 34 (Transfermarkt), which offers firm hope to the Reds that he could truly take flight in 2023/24.

If anything, the biggest challenge for the Uruguay marksman right now seems to be the sheer quality and competition in Liverpool’s attack, rather than any major shortcomings of his own. It’s far too early to write him off as an unsuccessful signing.

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