Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has claimed that Darwin Nunez’s teammates made life difficult for him as his new signing endured a night to forget to cap off a mixed pre-season.
Nunez has scored four goals in four pre-season outings, but all four came in one half of football against RB Leipzig, and several high-profile misses both in training and matches have not helped his cause as the Reds look to replace Sadio Mane.
And, Nunez looked similarly lost during his side’s final pre-season clash, in which a Benjamin Sesko strike ensured that they ended up on the wrong side of a 1-0 scoreline against RB Salzburg.
Speaking after the game, however, Klopp was quick to defend the 23-year-old, who was taken off at half-time, and instead shifted the blame onto those around the striker.
“Darwin was much too often alone,” Klopp told Liverpool’s website. “Everybody dropped, everybody was involved in the build-up but too wide and we could only pass the ball to Darwin in the box. He had his moments and nearly scored, but he needs much more support around him.
“You keep other players busy that they cannot focus on him. So many things. Second half, imagine now Darwin would have been there in the box, that would have helped as well. It is like it is - doesn’t feel great, but we take it and go from here.”
Bigger tests await
Nunez will be handed plenty more opportunities to impress in Liverpool colours, beginning with the Community Shield against Manchester City on July 30th, and will be hoping to begin repaying the faith shown in him by Klopp and his recruitment team.
Currently priced as long as 12-1 on Bet365 to finish top goalscorer, however, this season could be a case of bedding in and polishing the rough edges of his undoubted talent.
Liverpool fans will be hoping that his antics against Leipzig, and not sister side Salzburg, are a sign of things to come.