Liverpool made Darwin Nunez the most expensive player in the club’s history earlier this summer, but the Uruguayan has had to overcome one particular “weakness” to get to where he is now.
Nunez has hit the ground running in red, with two goals in his first two competitive Liverpool appearances, including a match-winning cameo off the bench in the Community Shield.
In pre-season, Nunez opened his account in emphatic fashion with four goals in 45 minutes in a friendly against RB Leipzig, silencing the rival fans who were desperate to see him fail.
A 34-goal season with Benfica convinced Jurgen Klopp and his recruitment team to put together an £85 million package to sign him in June, but things haven’t always been so plain-sailing.
In an interview with GOAL‘s Neil Jones, Nunez’s former Almeria coach Pedro Emanuel has revealed one “weakness” the striker struggled with in the early stages of his time with the Spanish outfit.
“Mentally, he has developed,” Emanuel told GOAL.
“The weakness I saw when he arrived was that if he missed a chance, he would worry, and it would take him some time to move on.
“We worked on that, and you see the difference in the last two or three years. He has more personality now, as you saw when he came to Liverpool.
“He missed a few chances and the pressure came, but what happened? He scored four goals against Leipzig. He carried on, kept believing and working hard, and the rewards came.”
Nunez spent one year with Almeria, before Benfica saw enough to make him their record signing at €24 million.
After another year in Portugal before Liverpool swooped in, Emanuel believes the Reds’ new No. 27 has now developed into one of Europe’s best players in his position.
“He became one of the best strikers in Europe,” Emanuel continues.
“He grew a lot physically and in his conditioning. You see now he can handle playing every three days.
“He improved a lot in his small movements around the box, inside the box in small spaces and with pressure. He can release himself and create space to shoot at goal.
“His connection, reading the game, is a lot better. He knows when to touch and move and use his skills, when he needs to receive long diagonals and get his team up to the final third, and when to come short to support and keep the ball for the team.
“What makes him so dangerous is that he always wants to play forward. He never stops working and he is so competitive.”
Now, with Nunez set to spearhead a new-look Liverpool attack in the years to come, Emanuel says the sky is the limit for his former Almeria talisman.
His words will be music to the ears of the Reds’ fans who are expecting big things from their new striker.
“At Liverpool, I think he will get better and better,” he added.
“I believe that when a club like this pays this amount of money, it’s because they think he can make the difference.
“With the coach, Jurgen Klopp, he will improve a lot, and he is joining a club that has stability, which can give time to its players to adapt, to know the team and can settle in.
“Liverpool obviously has other great strikers, which can only help him, and Darwin can also play from outside to inside, not only as a No.9 or with two strikers.
“But with his qualities, and particularly his mentality, I don’t have any doubts. He’s a father now, he has stability in his life, and he is ready to take the next step in his career.
“It’s a challenge for him, but one he is able to succeed in. He won’t let Liverpool down. He never gives up.”