Jurgen Klopp explains why 'exceptional' Liverpool star is being benched
Jurgen Klopp has admitted that Liverpool star Darwin Nunez’s difficulty with the English language is holding him back.
Nunez’s first season at Anfield since his £71million move last summer has been a mixed bag to say the least, with 15 goals and four assists not a bad return but perhaps a lot less than what was hoped for.
The Uruguay international has notably missed many big chances and has struggled to adapt to Liverpool’s system, with the striker more recently playing on the left-wing as Klopp works out how to get the best out of him.
But lately, the 23-year-old has found himself on the bench having been left out of the starting XI in three of the last four games, including key fixtures at Manchester City and Chelsea.
He was benched again last Monday at Elland Road, coming on to score the last goal in the 6-1 thrashing of Leeds, but for now the front three of Mohamed Salah, Cody Gakpo and Diogo Jota looks set to stay with Liverpool set to host Nottingham Forest on Saturday.
In Friday’s pre-match press conference, Klopp explained that the language barrier was affecting Nunez’s game, saying: ‘Darwin is a player with a different skillset to all our other players. He is a machine.
‘He is still adapting. His English is still not great. How can a striker shine when the team is struggling? But he has had super moments. This is a long-term project.
‘I understand Darwin is not always fine when he doesn’t start, smiling in my face, but it’s absolutely fine. When we have five or six players up front, I have to make decisions.
‘The door is miles open for all the boys. He was exceptional [vs Leeds]. Everyone who came on was on fire.
‘He’s a centre forward but we need a specific set-up to play and defend from the centre but we have to understand as a team [to defend from the centre]. We’ve had to adapt to different defending and striker up front, that’s how it is.
‘It’s about fine tuning and that is what we’re doing. After this season there is another and that is already on my mind now. Maybe we can learn some things to use now, that’s how I see it.
‘He can play both, absolutely. He has to learn English. That will help massively.’
Victory against struggling Forest is crucial with Liverpool still nine points off the top four and qualification for the Champions League.
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