Rarely does the phrase “diamond in the rough” fit a footballer better than this Darwin Nunez, Liverpool player.
The ingredients in the pot are slightly different. In the first four months, Liverpool fans tasted it all. It was a delightful mixture of rudeness and stupidity, indifference and desperation, and unforgiving touch and subtlety.
But above all, a lot happens about Nunez when he’s on the field. Uruguay is a guarantor of chaos. The extra time minutes against Napoli sum up most of it. First, a jerk made Min Jae Kim look like a turtle. Then an uproar on the field and an appropriate yellow card. After seven minutes of extra time, he hit the ball into the goal and waved offside. Before the VAR overturned the decision, Nunez could cheer like a possessed man.
This is Darwin at his worst
The 23-year-old’s power pack is making experts scratch their heads. The difference between the higher level and the lower level was rarely greater than in the case of Darwin.
– He didn’t do what Haaland did, and people expect more in terms of price. But when you see how many minutes he spent on the field, how many goals he scored per minute, the numbers are scary, Jimmy Carragher says at CBS Studio on Tuesday.
According to Transfermarkt, the Liverpool striker has played 743 minutes in all competitions this season. With seven goals in total, Nunez averages a goal every 106 minutes. There is still a long way to go before Erling Braut Haaland, who belongs to a class of his own. The Norwegian scored 22 goals in 1264 minutes. This gives an average of 57 minutes per goal. Only Robert Lewandowski (every 78 minutes) is nearby. Apart from the super attackers, Nunez is at the top of Europe.
There are also statistics showing that the 23-year-old is way ahead of Haaland. Nobody shoots more shots in the 90th minute than Nunez (6.7) in the Premier League. On average, 2.5 of these finishes hit the target. Only Haaland (2.6) is ahead of the Liverpool striker.
And the feeling that Nunez is often involved in situations about goals is not just a guess. If you add the expected goals and assists in 90 minutes, only Haaland (1.14) is ahead of Nunez (0.94).
Carragher sees great potential in Uruguay and is supported by Thierry Henry. The former Arsenal legend believes Nunez will thrive if he is given enough time and enough confidence to drop his shoulders.
– He needs confidence. The confidence you get when you play every week makes you cooler when you get the chance. Now he wants to impress the Liverpool fans. He wants to make them gossip, but he rushes when he gets the ball. I experienced the same thing early in my career. Now he is replacing Sadio Mane, which is not easy. Henry says it makes things very difficult.
Here, Østigård sees offside
It can be compared to super tip
Few, if any, strikers in the Premier League have been as quiet in front of goal as the Frenchman in his glory days. He puts the ball wide in the far corner with the most nature – week in, week out. Henry thought Darwin would be a different attacker.
– Is he finished like Robbie Fowler? I do not think so. But if he finds his flow, I think he has a lot of goals. He’s like Alexis Sanchez or the young Luis Suarez. When he learns to master what he is good at, he can control it better. When that happens, it’ll be a handful, says Henry.
Carragher believes Nunez shares many characteristics of the Liverpool striker he has played for himself. In the summer of 2007, Liverpool signed with Fernando Torres. The Spaniard took a while to settle down. When I first got ready for the jersey, it was unstoppable at times.
Torres scored many goals, but Darwin has the same strength and speed to beat defenders. Like young Torres, he lacks the technique required in the construction game – and is a bit clumsy. This is what Darwin looks like now, and it reminds me of it, says Carragher.
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