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Jurgen Klopp makes emphatic Darwin Nunez goal claim as Liverpool eye top-four spot



Jurgen Klopp makes emphatic Darwin Nunez goal claim as Liverpool eye top-four spot

Jurgen Klopp has opened up on Darwin Nunez’s start to life at Liverpool as the Reds continue their push for a Champions League place when they travel to Leicester

Darwin Nunez has scored 15 goals this seasons 

Jurgen Klopp believes there is more to come from Darwin Nunez despite a modest return in front of goal for Liverpool this season.

Nunez, 23, has scored nine times in 29 Premier League appearances following his big-money move from Benfica last summer. He has added a further six goals in cup competitions to take his tally up to 15 for the campaign.

But Nunez has received some criticism from fans and pundits for his finishing and performance since he made the switch to Anfield. Klopp has defended the Uruguayan, however, and claimed he would have scored a lot more goals if in a better Liverpool team. The Reds currently sit fifth in the Premier League table, four points behind fourth-placed Manchester United.

Klopp said: “He needed time to settle. The most difficult thing for a striker is to come in to a team that is not clicking. For him to have scored 15 goals anyway, imagine if by our standards a good season with 70 or 80 points, he would have scored 20-odd goals definitely.

“That’s how it is but they had much more that we created in this period. But 15 goals is still absolutely fine and three games to go so possibly increase that number as well.

“We spoke about it. He needs time to adapt. He had that at Benfica as well, but there wasn’t the language issue, or less of a language issue than there was here. It’s clear that we will try to help him and he can help us even more than he has done already.”

Darwin Nunez has scored 15 goals in all competitions this season

Liverpool are the second most in-form team in the division right now, having won their last six matches and have put up a real fight for a place in the Champions League. However, Man Utd and Newcastle both picked up positive results on Saturday in the race for a top-four spot.

The Reds are next in action when they travel to relegation-threatened Leicester and will need to continue their winning streak to stand any chance of finishing inside the Champions League spots.

“It is not about that, there are two games a season, or maybe with cup competitions three, four, five games where you play Man City or Arsenal,” Klopp added. “A successful season is that you are ready for all the games that you can win 20-odd, maybe 25 games.

“If City, Arsenal, Chelsea, Newcastle, Tottenham, Man Utd are all involved in that 25 then it’s even better. But can we create a team that can win the majority of the games? Yes we can. It’s not about what the others do, it never was.”


Harvey Elliott position becomes clear at Liverpool after’heartbroken’few weeks

Harvey Elliott would be forgiven even the merest suggestion of slightly mixed feelings at Liverpool’s strong end to the season.

As the Reds have put together a six-match winning run to give themselves an outside chance of Champions League qualification, the youngster has predominantly been left watching from the substitutes’ bench.

There was a busy performance as a starter against Tottenham Hotspur a fortnight ago before being replaced shortly after the hour, and a brief cameo against former club Fulham a few days later. That, though, has been it. As someone who recently admitted being “heartbroken” whenever he doesn’t play, it has been a testing time for Elliott.

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Having only turned 20 at the start of last month, such selective use of his still burgeoning talents would perhaps raise few eyebrows were it not the context of what had gone on before this season.

Indeed, up until he was rested from the squad on what would have been a birthday appearance at Chelsea – the only time he has not been involved on matchday this season – Elliott had the honour of being the only player to have featured in every game for Liverpool during a difficult campaign, making 41 appearances. Even now, only Mohamed Salah, Fabinho, Alisson Becker and Trent Alexander-Arnold have played more times this term.

Undoubtedly there has been a sense of making up for lost development time for both Liverpool and Elliott with the attacking midfielder having missed a huge chunk of last season with the fracture dislocation of his ankle and subsequent work towards regaining full fitness.

But even allowing for that lengthy absence – and the 2020/21 season on loan at Blackburn Rovers – Elliott still played 61 senior games for the Reds as a teenager.

For comparison, team-mate Alexander-Arnold made 54 appearances before turning 20, while Anfield greats Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher managed 44 and 15 respectively. Other notable players to feature heavily for the Reds in their teenage years are Michael Owen (100), Raheem Sterling (98) and Robbie Fowler (82).

None of those mentioned, though, had loan spells away from Anfield, and if his handful of outings as a 16-year-old with Fulham is also included, Elliott played a whopping 106 first-team games for either a Premier League or Championship club before turning 20.

Even young legs and minds need a rest at some point, but Elliott would have learned much from this difficult campaign. He has gained several strings to his bow, his versatility such that as well as lining up on the right of the midfield three – where his awareness of defensive responsibility has improved markedly over the months – he has also been a right winger in a 4-3-3 and 4-4-2, along with a couple of appearances on the left.

Elliott has been trusted by Jurgen Klopp in many of Liverpool’s big Premier League games this season, starting home and away against Manchester sides City and United along with Tottenham, and also at home to Newcastle and Chelsea and the Goodison derby against Everton.

But even with Thiago Alcantra, Naby Keita and fellow youngster Stefan Bajcetic sidelined, and James Milner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and on-loan Arthur Melo coming to the end of their Liverpool careers, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Elliott again found himself on the bench at Leicester City on Monday night with Klopp having favoured Curtis Jones alongside the experience of Jordan Henderson and Fabinho in midfield in recent weeks.

The re-emergence of Jones, himself still only 22, has been an intriguing subplot of the Reds’ sprint for the line, not least as it has allowed Alexander-Arnold to prosper in his new hybrid role. There is, though, room for both Jones and Elliott in the engine room, as was evidenced during Liverpool’s blistering start to their win against Tottenham.

Regardless of age, next season will be a significant one for the likes of Jones and Elliott, both of whom can no longer be regarded as first-team novices despite their tender years. And it will be made more demanding by the anticipated arrival of several high-profile midfielders during the forthcoming transfer window.

Elliott, though, has previously declared himself ready for the challenge. “Whoever comes in they will have unbelievable talent because it is a big club and it’s always going to be hard but you need to reflect on the situation, stay level-headed and wait for your opportunity,” he said earlier this month.‌ “More competition drives you on to make sure you are the best, to work as hard as you possibly can in training and take your opportunity in games. It’s more competition but it’s good for everyone.”

From overcoming serious injury to being a regular during a particularly difficult campaign, Elliott has experienced more than most players of his age. It will hold him in good stead for what’s to come over the next 12 months.


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