‘Come on…’ – Steve Nicol launches passionate defence of Liverpool star dismissed as a ‘bust’

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Steve Nicol launched a passionate defence of Liverpool star Darwin Nunez, being provoked by a throwaway comment about the striker.

The Scotsman was speaking on the ESPN FC podcast when one of his colleagues pondered whether the 24-year-old has been a ‘bust’ at Anfield, following a first season at the club which saw the Uruguayan occasionally called into question.

The ex-Reds defender wasn’t having any such criticism, though, quickly retorting: “You can look at it two ways. For £80m. you want the finished article. But, at the same time, have a look around the Premier League and the money people are spending on players that maybe don’t even have that potential.

“The guy has had one season. Straight away, right off the bat, you just said, ‘is he a bust already?’ This guy has never been given a chance by anybody, including you,” the latter said in direct response to the podcast presenter.

Nicol added: “Hold on a second, let’s get this right. When he was signed, did anybody at Liverpool tell us that ‘this guy is the present? This guy is going to start now’.”

As the discussion continued, the 61-year-old interjected: “Are you going to let me finish? The transfer fee doesn’t always tell you that. The guy was brought in as the future, yet after four months, everybody was on his back. Four months! And they were told that the guy is the future.

“He has had one season. Could it have been better? Probably. He certainly showed potential. He certainly shows what he is capable of and he has more in his locker.

“Yet, we haven’t kicked the season off and you are asking me if he is a bust? I mean, come on! Seriously, he has no chance! Unless he scores a hat-trick every game, then in your eyes he is a bust already!”

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Nicol hasn’t always been so complimentary of Liverpool players, having just this week said that Joe Gomez and Joel Matip don’t ‘do it anymore’ for him, but he certainly doesn’t feel the same way about Nunez.

The Scotsman is right to call out the Uruguayan’s critics from last season, having plundered a respectable 15 goals for the Reds across the campaign (Transfermarkt).

Compare that with another big-money summer 2022 acquisition in Richarlison, who repaid Tottenham’s £60m investment (The Guardian) with a measly three-goal return (Transfermarkt).

Also, as Neil Jones justifiably pointed out (via CaughtOffside), Nunez could be one of the biggest beneficiaries of the added creativity from the signings of Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai.

Liverpool fans will likely recall how, in his second campaign at Benfica, the Uruguayan ran riot by netting 34 goals (Transfermarkt). Even if he doesn’t hit that tally in 2023/24, there’s still a strong chance he’ll be one of the Reds’ most important players of the season.

Nicol is absolutely right to dismiss any suggestions that the 24-year-old is a ‘bust’ at Anfield.

#Ep79 of The Empire of the Kop Podcast: Dominik Szoboszlai – a mix of De Bruyne/Gerrard/Zidane?🎙️

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