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LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, May 18, 2024: Liverpool's Darwin Núñez during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Arne Slot sees Darwin Nunez as “critical” to Liverpool moving forward

Doubts over Darwin Nunez‘s future at Liverpool appeared to have been answered by the appointment of Arne Slot, who sees the striker as “critical” to his plans.

Nunez ended the season on a 10-game goal drought, failing to start any of the final four fixtures, with speculation over whether he could leave.

But the Uruguayan, who still ended the campaign with 18 goals and 13 assists to sit behind only Mo Salah on both, is expected to stay.

That comes with new head coach Slot planning to work closely with a player he views as “critical” to the future of Liverpool.

The Telegraph‘s Chris Bascombe reports that Slot, who was officially announced on Monday, “name-checked him as one of the many players he is excited to work with.”

Arne Slot, Feyenoord (Getty Images, Via UEFA Handout)

Slot held meetings with Liverpool sporting director Richard Hughes in Rotterdam, prior to a deal being struck, and made it clear his admiration for Nunez.

The Guardian‘s Andy Hunter is another to report that the Dutchman is “keen to work” with Nunez, with the Times‘ Paul Joyce explaining he is seen as possessing “attributes which can be polished.”

A comparison has been made with Santiago Gimenez at Feyenoord, with the Mexican striker scoring 49 goals in 86 appearances under Slot having previously only struck 21 times in 105 games for Cruz Azul.

“Slot has been known to try to rebuild the confidence of forwards during analysis sessions by stopping a video ‘just as he shoots the ball wide’ to help his players absorb explanations,” Joyce writes.

There is clearly immense potential in Nunez, but many have lost patience with the No. 9 for the sheer number of big chances missed.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, May 18, 2024: Liverpool's Darwin Núñez during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Per FotMob, only Erling Haaland (34) missed more big chances in this season’s Premier League than Nunez (27), but did so while outscoring the Liverpool striker by 27 goals to 11.

Many of Nunez’s efforts came in lesser competitions, with seven goals and five assists in 18 games across the Europa League, FA Cup and Carabao Cup.

Still, there is talent to be moulded and Slot seemingly believes he is the coach to do it, likely noting that Nunez averaged a direct goal contribution every 97.6 minutes in 2023/24.

That is metric which will surely endear the striker to Michael Edwards, too, with his underlying numbers evidence that he is worth the effort.