John Barnes’ thoughts on Darwin Nunez’s recent impressive form

It has certainly been an up-and-down season for Liverpool’s Darwin Nunez. In recent weeks the forward has come into an impressive reign of form. Liverpool fans will be hoping to see him continue to improve as they strive for a top four finish. We sat down with Anfield legend John Barnes to get his perspective on the former Benfica forward. 

A fee of £64.1million, which could potentially rise to £85 million when add-ons are considered, is a lot of money. The add ons could make Nunez the most expensive in Liverpool history. Such a hefty fee comes with an added weight of expectation from fans and pundits alike. Barnes, who knows a thing or two about the importance of impressing an Anfield crowd has been impressed with Darwin Nunez. Barnes particularly highlights his work off the ball as something that has caught his eye about the Uruguayan forward. 

“He’s been our most impressive player in an inconsistent season.” 

‘Even when he’s not scoring he’s dangerous. He gives 100%, he works and tries hard for the team. He chases back. He’s been a plus this season and hopefully between now and the end of the season we see an improvement in the team.” 

“Also, his goalscoring hopefully continues to improve. He’s now scoring goals and hopefully that can continue.”

Since Sadio Mane left Liverpool last summer, Klopp has been experimental with his attacking options and the positions he uses his players in. Luis Diaz, Cody Gakpo, Nunez have all been utilised as forward options on the left side. Klopp’s experiment has partly been due to injuries which have wrecked Liverpool’s season. However, it could also be argued that Klopp has been trying to find a balance in his side. Barnes seems to think similarly to Klopp in the utilisation of Nunez positionally. He claims Nunez can play anywhere across the frontline but it requires the team to be well balanced across the pitch. 

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“Darwin Nunez can play anywhere. Sadio Mané and Mohammed Salah played wide and scored a lot of goals so he can also play as the wide attacker. He has the abilities and the pace to play wide and score a lot of goals.”

“I think all the attacking players can play anywhere. Mohammed Salah probably fits best as the wide player but all the other players can play at all three positions so I don´t think it makes any difference.”

“But it’s very important for the attacking players that the fullbacks are contributing offensively as well and that the midfield is having the right balance, which gives them the right prerequisites to perform.”

One aspect of Liverpool’s attacking patterns in recent weeks has been the on the field connection established between Nunez and Salah.  Darwin Núñez and Mo Salah are creating a goalscoring chance for one another every 52 minutes they are on the pitch together on average in the Premier League this season, the best rate of any duo to play 1,000+ mins together in the 2022-23 competition. Despite this Barnes doesn’t see the duo as a partnership but admits to seeing the pair build a good understanding.  

“I don’t see them as a partnership because Liverpool plays with three up front. But they both have a very good understanding of how to be dangerous at the counter attacks.”

Especially Nunez has been fantastic because he has the pace to be a threat on the counter attacks. So I’m more seeing it as the two of them having a great understanding of their role and not necessarily them being a partnership.”