Jurgen Klopp has struck early in the transfer market with the signing of Uruguay striker Darwin Nunez and Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler has given his verdict on the deal
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That is the view of legendary Anfield striker Robbie Fowler, who knows a thing or two about goalscorers and views Nunez as possessing the potential to become a world-class finisher.
The former Reds hero believes that for all the goals Jurgen Klopp’s side have plundered under the German in the past six years, he has missed an out-and-out hitman who can make the difference in the biggest games. That was evident in the three finals Liverpool reached in the past season – where they had an incredible, and record-breaking, 76 shots on goal, but failed to find the net once.
In a game they should have won easily, they had the most shots in the history of the Champions League final, and Real Madrid ‘keeper Thibaut Courtois made a record number of saves. And Fowler believes Nunez, as a more natural centre forward, is gifted with the qualities to provide the finish that has been lacking in the biggest games with a view to delivering even more trophies.
Writing in his Mirror column, he said: “To me, it seems like a sensible plan to replace Sadio Mane with him. Of course, it’s a gamble, because any striker coming into the Premier League is a gamble. You only have to look at Timo Werner going to Chelsea, as a goalscorer with an incredible record in Germany, but failing to hit the game number. Hell, even Romelu Lukaku was a gamble for Chelsea, and he’d spent half his life in the Premier League.
“But what I will say about Nunez is he’s scored goals in big games, scored in the Champions League, scored against Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Liverpool, the best teams and the best defences. And even though he’s raw, there is clearly goalscoring quality within his play. To me, that is what Liverpool need.
“They’ve been brilliant this past year, unbelievable. But you look at the biggest games and they didn’t always have that goalscoring edge. The Champions League final against Madrid was a game they should have won but didn’t because of missed chances.
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“Nunez could eventually be that striker to convert those chances. With the raw quality Nunez has, he could be really exciting as he develops.” Nunez is a clear replacement for Sadio Mane, and at a potential club record fee of £85m, then it is a big gamble to replace a proven, world-class performer with a 22-year-old who has played only one season in the Champions League.
But Fowler believes Klopp’s record in developing forwards into goalscorers is so good that it gives Nunez a real chance of reaching the levels of some of the greats. And he believes replacing an ageing player with a young, rising star, is a justified gamble. “If any manager is going to get the best out of Nunez, it is Jurgen Klopp,” Fowler said. “I never really saw Mo Salah or Sadio Mane as proper goalscorers, but he turned them into genuine finishers. And without question, definitely, he did that with Robert Lewandowski at [Borussia] Dortmund.
“Nunez arrives at Anfield with more a striker’s mentality than Salah or Mane did because he’s more used to playing centrally, he’s more used to playing in the penalty area and finishing. He’s only 22 and he is still raw, there’s no doubt about that. But from what I’ve seen of him, he has the mindset to score goals. When you score against the likes of Barca, Bayern and Liverpool, it shows something. You don’t get goals for free against those teams.
“I would hate for people to get carried away but it has been something I’ve suggested for a long time – I’d like to see Liverpool play with a real finisher. I suggested they go for Harry Kane in the past. It would be frightening what he could have achieved in Klopp’s team. And I think with the potential Nunez has, then if he develops as you hope he would under Klopp, then he could be frightening too.”