“The ticket into the team will be the readiness to defend. I’ve never heard about a team being really successful with sloppy defending. It doesn’t happen,” Klopp said back in July.
“I know all about the quality they have and they need to do both, defend and be influential in all offensive situations,” the manager continued.
In Liverpool’s four games to date, Nunez has come off the bench in three and started one – the latter he earned with his match-winning double at Newcastle.
And it was against Aston Villa in the final match before the international break that showed Nunez can also do the dirty work and prove a handful in more than just goal-scoring situations.
Per AIUnderPressure, who analyse Liverpool’s pressing success throughout a match, Nunez recored 59.2 presses per 90 (possession adjusted) in the win over Villa.
Finally, a shout out to the big man Darwin Nunez. This would be an outstanding press-map for any #LFC centre forward, for Nunez this is a REVELATION.
59.2 possession adjusted is the 5th highest single match figure in our database! pic.twitter.com/qI6mNIP7Ob
— AIUnderPressure (@AIUnderPressure) September 6, 2023
It shows that he is understanding the timing of Liverpool’s press and when and how it is triggered by the team, rather than acting as a one man crusade.
Nunez’s growth is an exciting prospect for Liverpool and a daunting one for the opposition, with his chaos on the ball now starting to be matched by his prudence off it.
It is a requirement that is also to be asked of him at international level by new manager Marcelo Bielsa, who Nunez has already had talks with that has aided his game.
He must be selfless to slot into Bielsa’s plans, and with the Uruguayan manager having always emphasised high energy, it will work brilliantly in tandem with what Klopp wants from Nunez.
As the pressing stats above show, Nunez is starting to deliver what his manager wants from his work off the ball, and that is a golden ticket when it comes to extending his stay in the starting XI.