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SOCCER

Klopp laughs off criticism of Núñez and Haaland

Darwin Núñez and Erling Haaland courted criticism for their performances in pre-season, which Jurgen Klopp thinks is ridiculous.

Update:
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 06: Darwin Nunez of Liverpool during the Premier League match between Fulham FC and Liverpool FC at Craven Cottage on August 6, 2022 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images)
Matthew Ashton - AMAGetty

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp thinks it is “crazy” how quickly critics were on the backs of Darwin Núñez and Erling Haaland in pre-season.

Uruguay striker Núñez joined the Reds from Benfica in a transfer potentially worth £85million (€100m) in June, while Manchester City sealed a reported £51m (€60m) deal with Borussia Dortmund for Haaland a month earlier.

Both major investments were seen as deals that could widen the gap between them and the rest of the Premier League, though each player has courted criticism.

For Núñez, the flak arrived as early as his first pre-season game after missing a big chance in a 4-0 defeat to Manchester United.

Haaland was then ridiculed for a difficult day against the Reds as Klopp’s side won the Community Shield at the end of July.

Goals for Núñez and Haaland

Núñez scored in that win over City before coming off the bench to find the back the net and provide an assist for Mohamed Salah in a 2-2 draw at Fulham, while Haaland marked his Premier League debut with a double in a win at West Ham.

For Klopp, the desperation to write players off is unhelpful and unfair.

Speaking to Sky Sports ahead of Monday’s clash with Crystal Palace, Klopp said: “Five weeks ago, when we started pre-season and [Núñez] had his first game and it didn’t look great from the outside world.

“Not for us, but it’s crazy how quick we judge people… wow!

“Imagine if somebody did that to us and said, ‘First day of work, it didn’t work out. Go home, we never want to see you again! And you don’t get a second chance by the way’ – we would have all been long gone! No chance.

“Everybody can now see, ‘Ah he’s a proper striker’ – so good for us and good for him.

“He’s a handful and is a different type to what we had. He’s very lively and very energetic. Physically he’s really strong and technically he’s really good, that obviously goes together with being more settled and confident and more secure in yourself in a new environment.

“You can’t say, ‘Come on, you have to give me 100 per cent immediately’ – you have to develop it and that’s what we’re doing at the moment and in a good way.

“It’s funny as well, we won against Manchester City the week before the season and everybody was asking, ‘Will Haaland score this and that?’

“A week is like 10 years in football!”

Liverpool injuries

Klopp has had to contend with the disruption of several injuries already, but he reiterated the Reds are not planning to go into the transfer market.

“If there was the right player and an opportunity, we would have done it, we would do it, but I don’t see it because we had a lot of conversations already and it doesn’t look like something will happen,” he added.

“I’m happy with the strength, size and quality of my squad but we have injuries. There are plenty of solutions for it. One of them is the transfer market, but that only makes sense if you can bring in the right player.

“All the other solutions are inside the squad. We have too many injuries, that’s clear. Naby [Keita] will be back for Monday and Kostas [Tsimikas] will train for the first time, so he might be back as well.”

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