Since arriving on Merseyside from Benfica, it has been a stop start beginning to life at Anfield for Liverpool’s big summer signing Darwin Nunez, but after scoring a goal and an impressive all-round performance against Ajax in Amsterdam, he is starting to prove his worth to Jurgen Klopp’s side.

Goals so far

It didn’t take long for the Uruguayan to endear himself to the Liverpool faithful when he came on as a substitute in the Community Shield against Manchester City, where he sealed Liverpool’s first piece of silverware of the 2022/23 campaign.

Super sub-Nunez announced himself to the Premier League against a determined Fulham at Craven Cottage on the opening day with a goal and an assist.

Nunez then experienced a disastrous home debut against Crystal Palace. He was sent off, and banned for three games for a head butt on defender Joachim Andersen. The Uruguayan then had to bide his time to get back amongst the goals after a resurgence in form from Roberto Firmino. Nunez eventually scored his second league goal of the season against Arsenal with an instinctive finish which keeper, Aaron Ramsdale could do nothing about.

In a game of fine margins against West Ham, Nunez proved to be the difference when he scored his long-awaited first Anfield goal in a 1-0 win, which took his premier league tally to three.

The European stage is often a time when players are judged and so far the Uruguayan is passing that test with flying colours. Nunez hit six goals in ten matches for Benfica in the Champions League last season and currently sits on two goals in the European competition already for the Reds – which were scored in back-to-back games with a calmly placed strike at Ibrox against Rangers and a powerful header at the Johan Cruijff ArenA against Ajax. The Uruguayan helped Liverpool secure their place in the last 16.

Replacing Mane?

Before the campaign got underway, there was mounting speculation on how Nunez was going to replace Sadio Mane. The Senegalese international played a vital part in the Liverpool title winning machine. Mane was Klopp’s first Liverpool signing. He scored 120 goals and 38 assists in 269 appearances across his six-year spell at Anfield before departing for a new challenge at Bayern Munich.

Despite Nunez showing his versatility by appearing on the left wing at moments this season, his natural position is the number nine role and playing through the centre. The obvious replacement for Mane, was January signing, Luis Diaz from FC Porto, who was brought in prematurely for a fee of £37million. The original plan seemed to be to bring the Colombian to Anfield in the summer, but the surprise interest of Tottenham Hotspur prompted the reds to react quickly. Unfortunately for Diaz, he picked up a serious knee injury which will see him out of action until after the World Cup. The left-wing position has been a problem position so far this season with cameos from Fabio Carvalho, Diogo Jota, Curtis Jones and Nunez all filling in on the left.

Erling Haaland comparison

Liverpool and Manchester City have been going toe to toe for the past few seasons in the Premier League, with both teams comfortably a cut above the rest. Both have their big star signing up front, Nunez to Liverpool and superstar, Erling Haaland to Manchester City. Much was made of the comparisons in their transfer fees,with the Uruguayan becoming the reds most expensive transfer at £85million and the Norwegian costing Man City £51million which was the release clause value.

Competitively the comparison began right from the Community Shield. Haaland miss an open goal and Nunezcame off the bench to score before whipping his top off and celebrating with the Liverpool fans. Since then, Haaland has shown the world what he is capable of and racked up 22 goals in 15 games compared to the six goals in 13 games for Nunez.

Another similarity made between the two is their age and experience. Haaland, 22, has played at three clubs at European level, from bursting on the scene at Red Bull Salzburg, excelling at Borussia Dortmund and to flourishing at Manchester City. Nunez who is a year older at 23 is considered more of a raw talent who experienced his breakthrough season only last season at Benfica.

Jurgen Klopp has called for patience. Nunez is still setttling into Premier League life, and is still learning English language. Spanish speaking teammates Thiago Alcantara, Adrian and Luis Diaz all have a part to play there.