Luis Suarez has revealed that representatives from his former club Liverpool had asked him to speak with Darwin Nunez during ‘a bad time’ for the 24-year-old at Anfield.
The Reds’ current number nine scored 15 goals in his first season on Merseyside last term but still had to face a barrage of criticism over missed opportunities and the occasional hot-headed moment, along with struggling initially with his adaptation to the English language.
However, with the centre-forward already on seven goals and six assists for the current campaign (Transfermarkt) and looking much sharper, he’s now living up to the initial £64m that the club paid for him in June 2022 (BBC Sport).
Speaking to AUF TV (via ESPN Argentina), Suarez outlined that he’d had a prolonged conversation with his international teammate Nunez during the latter’s challenging first year at Liverpool.
The 36-year-old said: “I told Darwin about the [Uruguay number nine shirt] in Qatar and we always talked about it before. He has potential, technical ability and physical power that he is showing. As a teammate, I am not surprised because I knew, even when he had a bad time in Liverpool last year.
“I spoke to him – in Liverpool they told me to talk to him – I warned him and told him what English football was. He, with the heart he has, opened up and told me what It had happened to him at that moment, [and] we talked about it.
“Also about the number 9 shirt in the national team, I told him that when I leave I want him to grab it. That’s why, if you listen to Darwin’s statements, he says it with total sincerity. As a teammate I am happy for him.”
When a footballer who’s earning £140,000 per week completes a transfer worth £64m (potentially rising to £85m), there can be a temptation to expect them to get on with it as pressure comes with the territory.
However, it must be remembered that, when he signed for Liverpool, Nunez was moving to a new country a week before his 23rd birthday as a father to a five-month-old son and without being fluent in the primary language spoken there.
The challenge of that huge career move, along with the scrutiny that it brought from media, pundit and football fans alike, must’ve been incredibly difficult to cope with, irrespective of how handsomely he was being reimbursed.
It therefore would’ve been most understandable if he struggled to adapt in his first few months in England, and a return of 15 goals in his debut season at Anfield is not to be dismissed lightly.
Only Nunez can provide an accurate answer as to how much the chat with Suarez helped him, but from looking at the 24-year-old’s electrifying performances this term, the words from ‘El Pistolero’ must’ve had a positive impact on Liverpool’s all-action number nine. Long may it continue!