Graham Cummins: Darwin Nunez could be the next Thierry Henry or new Timo Werner

'I believe he will be given the benefit of the doubt this season by Liverpool but will be searching for a replacement if it continues into 2023...'
Graham Cummins: Darwin Nunez could be the next Thierry Henry or new Timo Werner

Uruguay's Darwin Nunez at the World Cup. Picture: AP Photo/Manu Fernandez

DARWIN Nunez has come in for some criticism for his lack of composure in front of goal since the return of domestic football after the World Cup. 

The Uruguayan has wasted several golden opportunities in recent games, and it is yet to be seen whether the striker is going to be worth the €100m the Reds paid Benefica for his services. After an impressive debut in the Community Shield against Manchester City, it seemed that Liverpool had gotten a bargain in the signing of Nunez. Some even foolishly suggested that he was a better signing than Erling Haaland.

People were expecting too much from Nunez. While I don’t think he is a world-class striker, I do feel he is being harshly criticised at times. It is his first season, with one of the biggest clubs in the world. He is playing in a new league and country. He shouldn’t be judged on half a season, especially one that has been disrupted by a World Cup. 

Liverpool's Darwin Nunez in action against Manchester City's Aymeric Laporte. Picture: Isaac Parkin/PA Wire.
Liverpool's Darwin Nunez in action against Manchester City's Aymeric Laporte. Picture: Isaac Parkin/PA Wire.

The best words to sum up the 23-year-old is that he is raw. He has so much going for him, such as his pace, movement and strength, yet his touch could be better and his hold-up play certainly needs to improve. He isn’t good with his back to goal. I’m actually quite surprised by how poor he is with this. At times, Liverpool would be just as well playing with a wall up front because the wall and Nunez would have the same first touch. The majority of balls played into the Liverpool striker just seem to bounce off him. 

Even with his strong attributes, he needs to learn how to use them properly otherwise Liverpool supporters and Jurgen Klopp’s patience will run out.

It’s obvious what Nunez’s main flaw is at this moment: his finishing. It’s why I think we could end up likening him to Thierry Henry or Timo Werner. Both had similar qualities to Nunez. They were quick, had good movement, worked hard for the team and were players that opposition defenders didn’t enjoy playing against. 

Despite Nunez’s faults, I guarantee defenders hate to play against him because he never gives them a moment's peace. 

Arsenal icon Thierry Henry, who tormented defenders across eight seasons with the Gunners, during which he won the Golden Boot four times. Picture: PA.
Arsenal icon Thierry Henry, who tormented defenders across eight seasons with the Gunners, during which he won the Golden Boot four times. Picture: PA.

Of course, with Henry, after a sluggish start he was able to improve his goal tally and become one of the greatest goalscorers in Premier League history, whereas for Werner he will probably be remembered for a striker who did so much for the team but ultimately missed too many chances. Unfortunately for Nunez, he will be more likened to Wener than Henry at this moment.

PATIENT

However, the former Benfica striker is still very young and can improve. The question is, can Liverpool afford to be patient enough to see if Nunez does come good or will they have to cut their losses and look for a replacement? 

I believe he will be given the benefit of the doubt this season but were his finishing still as poor next year, then they probably would be searching for a replacement.

It’s obvious to see that Nunez is not a natural finisher. He isn’t a player that you would be putting your mortgage on scoring when he is through on goal. Just look how bad his effort against Manchester City was this season when he tried to dink the ball over Ederson only for the effort to go more sideways than towards goal. 

It was an effort you wouldn't expect to see at junior football, never mind in one of the biggest games in the world. The difference between Nunez and Mohammed Salah when through on goal is night and day. Salah relishes being one-on-one with a goalkeeper whereas Nunez fears it.

It seems like he has no idea what to do. Some strikers just do not like having time to think about their finishes. 

They just like it when they have to make a decision quickly and don’t have to second-guess themselves. Nunez is one of those players. He is better when he has to finish first time rather than having the time to take a touch. That composure needed only comes with experience. 

Nunez needs to stop over-trying and just relax in front of goal and slow down otherwise he will end up like Werner, shipped back to a weaker league rather than remaining at one of the biggest clubs in the world.

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