Liverpool’s signing of Darwin Núñez has been labeled as ‘Jurgen Klopp’s biggest miscalculation’.
That’s according to Spanish newspaper El Paiswho cover the player today with inside sources providing them details on the situation at Anfield.
Núñez joined Liverpool in a €75m deal from Benfica in the summer, having managed 48 goals and 16 assists in 85 games for the Portuguese giants.
There was big optimism about his arrival at the club, with many predicting a direct battle with Erling Haaland for the Golden Boot this season.
He is yet to get going for the Reds, though, with two goals and one assist, plus a red card, in five games not exactly the return they were looking for.
It’s led to some criticism of him and that continues in El Pais today, who label the striker a ‘glaring blemish’ on Klopp’s excellent record in the transfer window in recent years.
According to them, club officials are openly admitting that making Núñez the most expensive signing in their history ‘was a blunder’ given the ‘cognitive abilities’, or lack of them, he is showing in training and in matches.
They say that Núñez being substituted in the 4-1 defeat to Napoli this week was ‘the most ominous manifestation’ of a growing crisis for Klopp and Liverpool.
The German boss has enjoyed a strong, successful run in the transfer market during his reign, with even his biggest signings such as Virgil van Dijk and Alisson working out well.
Unless there is a ‘miracle’, though, that streak has been broken with the signing of Núñez and the blame is on Klopp.
He endorsed the move for the Uruguayan while ‘flatly ruling out’ more affordable options such as Richarlison, Heung-min Son and Robert Lewandowski, who was offered by Pini Zahavi.
It seems, though, they have been left unimpressed by their star signing, with the disappointment coming in pre-season. In fact, according to their information, it only took ten days for the ‘technical secretariat’ to call for Roberto Firmino’s return.
The story is that Klopp put Núñez through a set of exercises that measure mental speed and during this it was revealed the striker was ‘making too many wrong decisions and that under pressure his controls were a lottery.’
Since that point Klopp has worked to train the striker patiently but has been forced to use him as an ‘opportunist’ to fight for crosses or an impact sub.
The situation has caused problems, with Liverpool’s owners left ‘perplexed’ when Klopp dismissed any concerns, even though the club staff had warned they were ‘taking a huge risk’.
Klopp remained ‘genuinely enthusiastic’ about the move, though, focusing on ‘the illusion of the purchase’ after being impressed by Núñez in a Champions League play-off.
That, and other decisions, are now being questioned. In fact, a club source says the decision to play James Milner and Harvey Elliot against Napoli was seen as a mistake because the latter ‘never showed great organizational qualities’. That led to issues against the Italians, who went on to win 4-1.
Now, though, the focus is on Núñez’s struggles, with some going as far as to claim he “is getting Andy Carroll’s face”.
But, in clearer terms, he’s a new Andy Carroll.