MATCHDAY PROGRAMME

NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE, ENGLAND - Sunday, August 27, 2023: Liverpool's Darwin Núñez (L) celebrates with team-mate Mohamed Salah after scoring the winning second goal during the FA Premier League match between Newcastle United FC and Liverpool FC at St James' Park. Liverpool won 2-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Jurgen Klopp explains key to Darwin Nunez and Mo Salah’s “special partnership”

With Darwin Nunez and Mohamed Salah developing into a prolific duo up front, Jurgen Klopp has explained how they have become such a “special partnership.”

Since Nunez’s £85 million arrival from Benfica, and particularly on establishing himself as a key player this season, he has enjoyed a close bond with Salah on the pitch.

The Uruguayan has combined with the Egyptian for 11 goals, at least seven more than he has with any other Liverpool player, with nine of his 10 assists being for Salah.

It brings a new dynamic to Klopp’s attack, following the breakup of his long-standing front three of Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.

Asked about Salah’s understanding with Nunez, the manager gave a simple explanation.

“These players, you cannot become a Liverpool player if you are not really football smart. So that means they are really football smart,” Klopp replied.

“What would you do if you are on the ball, you sprint at 900mph down the line and you think ‘who could have the same speed and be in the right position?’ – it’s probably Mo.

“Other players are quick as well, but that’s why Darwin and Mo, that’s why it’s clicking, that’s why they look for each other and stuff like this.

“But it’s not that they cut out the other boys, it’s just a different way of playing.

“When we played with Bobby more centrally, but a bit deeper, I’m not exactly sure what the numbers are between Sadio and Mo, but they probably were pretty good as well.

“Because they were the first two arriving in the opposition box, if you want to pass the ball, then it’s probably to one of them. That’s it.

“Generally, from the beginning, how Mo supports the boys – Darwin came here, big expectations, and Mo understands the situation probably the best – [he] saw his potential and wanted to help him.

“Without having the longest conversations, because of some language issues, that was for sure the start of a special partnership.”

BRIGHTON & HOVE, ENGLAND - Sunday, October 8, 2023: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah (C) celebrates with team-mate Darwin Núñez after scoring the first equalising goal during the FA Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion FC and Liverpool FC at the American Express Community Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Despite his elite form and the growing sense that he is becoming undroppable, the fact remains that Nunez has only started six of a possible 12 Premier League games this season.

He has, however, started four of the last five and each of the last three, with Klopp facing a big decision over whether to retain his No. 9 against Man City.

“It’s not now that we have 12 different players for that position. They all came back from internationals, pretty much,” he said.

“We have to make decisions, and for this I have to wait – at 3pm is the meeting, at 4pm is training, so until then – look in their eyes, talk to them, see who is ready to start and who is better to bring on.

“They nearly all had a really good international break: Colombia really successful, Lucho scored twice, Uruguay obviously did really well.

“So we have to see. He is in a good moment, we want to use him as often as possible. But if it’s possible I don’t know in this moment.”