Darwin Nunez (9) of Liverpool celebrates scoring Liverpool's second goal with Mohamed Salah during the pre-season friendly match between SpVgg Greuther Fürth and Liverpool at on July 24, 2023 in Fuerth, Germany. (Photo by Nick Taylor/Liverpool FC/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

Doak’s electric & Darwin’s composure – 5 things we learned from Liverpool friendly

Liverpool rounded off the German leg of their pre-season friendly schedule by playing out an entertaining 4-4 draw with Greuther Furth.

Goals from Luis Diaz and Mohamed Salah either side of a Darwin Nunez brace helped the Reds earn a share of the spoils from a behind-closed-doors clash in Villingen-Schwenningen.

Most importantly, Jurgen Klopp got more minutes into the legs of his returning stars as they continue to gear up for the start of a new campaign.

Here, we take a look at five things we learned from the Reds’ second friendly of the summer.


Electric Ben Doak has to stay

KARLSRUHER, GERMANY - Wednesday, July 19, 2023: Liverpool's Diogo Jota (R) and Ben Doak (L) after a pre-season friendly match between Karlsruher SC and Liverpool FC at the Wildparkstadion. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It is easy to get carried away with the pre-season contributions of youngsters giving their all up against seasoned professionals who might be taking things a little easier by comparison.

But there is no getting away from the fact that Ben Doak has stood out so far in his two 45-minute showings, much as he did during rare forays into the first-team and at academy level last term.

It goes without saying that the teenage Scot is not yet ready to challenge the likes of Mohamed Salah and Luis Diaz for regular minutes on the wings given his inexperience, however, there is a clear route to game time in the Europa League and domestic cups next season, as well as value in training alongside the aforementioned wide forwards every day.

For that reason, the 17-year-old would surely be better served sticking around at Anfield rather than being sent out on loan.


Conor Bradley a genuine option

KARLSRUHE, GERMANY - Wednesday, July 19, 2023: Liverpool's Conor Bradley during a pre-season friendly match between Karlsruher SC and Liverpool FC at the Wildparkstadion. Liverpool won 4-2. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Of course, Doak is not the only youngster using this period to state their case to the manager, with Conor Bradley doing a similarly impressive job.

You suspect that, once Trent Alexander-Arnold is restored to right-back by further additions in midfield, Klopp currently views Joe Gomez as the back-up in that position.

But the Englishman is hardly a like-for-like replacement since a change to a system that calls for so much of Liverpool’s play to go through their right-sided defender.

That statement is not true of Bradley who, while not on Alexander-Arnold’s level (who is?), has shown himself to be far more adept than Gomez at stepping into midfield and just as capable in terms of the basics of defending.

Klopp must be seriously considering keeping the 20-year-old around to fulfil that back-up role for the first half of the season at the very least.

Again, like Doak the Europa League offers a big opportunity.


Cody Gakpo in midfield

KARLSRUHER, GERMANY - Wednesday, July 19, 2023: Liverpool's Cody Gakpo celebrates after scoring his side's second goal during a pre-season friendly match between Karlsruher SC and Liverpool FC at the Wildparkstadion. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The imminent departures of Fabinho and Jordan Henderson have no doubt played their part in forcing Klopp to experiment in pre-season, but you wonder whether he might be starting to see Cody Gakpo as a genuine midfield option.

As was the case against Karlsruher last time out, the Dutchman impressed in the engine room here, using his physicality, touch and awareness to link the front and back lines in effortless fashion.

Of course, his similarities to Roberto Firmino when deployed as a No.9 make him the obvious candidate to start in that position in the toughest of away games when the season starts.

But there is a genuine case for Gakpo to be used in midfield in home games in order to get as much attacking threat on the pitch as possible.


More encouragement for Darwin Nunez

KARLSRUHE, GERMANY - Wednesday, July 19, 2023: Liverpool's Darwin Núñez (L) celebrates with team-mate Mohamed Salah after scoring the opening goal during a pre-season friendly match between Karlsruher SC and Liverpool FC at the Wildparkstadion. Liverpool won 4-2. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

There can hardly have been a more Darwin Nunez goal scored than the one the striker bagged against Karlsruher last time out.

A poor choice of pass followed by a lucky bounce and a first-time finish – it is this exact combination of chaos and effectiveness that we have come to expect from the Uruguayan during his time at Anfield.

Of course, if Nunez is to truly excel for Liverpool this term, you feel that some of those rough edges must be knocked off his game by Klopp.

But, thankfully, there were some encouraging signs of that here.

Both of his goals evidenced a composure that was not always seen last season, with multiple neat touches under pressure preceding a convincing finish.

And the Reds’ new No.9 then did everything right in teeing Mohamed Salah up to level it up at 4-4 right at the death only to be denied a match-winning hat-trick goal by a lucky save moments later.

If Nunez can keep this up, then he is in for the sort of second-season explosion that has been a hallmark of his short career thus far.


Adrian does little to boost his reputation

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, April 22, 2023: Liverpool's goalkeeper Adrián San Miguel del Castillo (L) and goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher (R) during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Nottingham Forest FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It would be fair to say that the decision to hand Adrian a one-year contract extension this summer was not universally popular among Liverpool fans.

And the Spaniard did little to win over his doubters after taking to the field in the second half of this game, firing a hospital pass in to marked youngster James McConnell to hand Greuther Furth a goal.

It is the sort of mistake that saw Adrian leapfrogged by Caoimhin Kelleher into the role of number two goalkeeper over the last two seasons, restricting him to just two appearances in that period.

Clearly, there will be no change to that pecking order post-contract, with the 36-year-old himself recently admitting that his role as an elder statesman in the dressing room was key to earning fresh terms rather than any on-pitch contribution.

Reds supporters must hope that there is no change to that status quo necessitated by an injury crisis between the sticks.