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SOCCER

Klopp says new Liverpool signing Núñez “has all the pieces we look for”

Jürgen Klopp was full of praise for Darwin Núñez but insists he is still a ‘work in progress’ as he tempers immediate expectations.

Update:
(FILES) In this file photo taken on April 5, 2022 Benfica's Uruguayan forward Darwin Nunez celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during the UEFA Champions League quarter final first leg football match between SL Benfica and Liverpool FC at the Luz stadium in Lisbon. - Darwin Nunez vowed to write himself into Liverpool's history after securing a move from Benfica on June 14, 2022 for a fee that could rise to a club record 100 million euros (�85 million, $105 million). (Photo by CARLOS COSTA / AFP)
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Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp says new signing Darwin Núñez has all the attributes that the Reds look for in a player but insists he is still a “work in progress”.

The Reds confirmed the signing of the 22-year-old Uruguay international forward on a “long-term contract” from Benfica on Tuesday. Núñez has joined for a reported fee of €75million, with a further €25M in potential add-ons, in a move that is subject to the granting of a work permit and international clearance.

The striker joins after netting 48 goals in 85 appearances for Benfica, finishing as last season’s Primeira Liga top scorer with 26 strikes. He also scored in both of Benfica’s Champions League matches against Liverpool prompting excitement about his acquisition.

Klopp was delighted with his capture given his qualities to add to their forward options but stressed he was not the finished product yet. “Darwin is a wonderful player, already really good but so much potential to get even better,” the German coach told Liverpool’s official website. “That’s why it’s so exciting, to be honest. His age, his desire, his hunger to be even better than he currently is. His belief in our project and what we are looking to do as a club. He is as excited by us as we are by him, which makes for a great relationship, when you appreciate each other’s strengths. That is certainly the case here. He thinks we suit him and we believe he is the right fit for us. He has all the pieces we look for. He can set a tempo, he brings energy, he can threaten space from central and wide areas. He is aggressive and dynamic with his movement. He plays without fear, he’s powerful. I know he will excite our supporters. It’s important we all recognise we are getting a ‘work in progress’ with Darwin. He recognises that himself, for sure. I love how much focus and humility he has. We have wonderful attacking options already and he becomes part of that now. So there is no pressure on him at all. He signs for a very long time and we intend to nurture his talent and see it grow.”

Klopp hailed the club’s ambition in completing the deal for Núñez, who had interest from several other clubs including Manchester United and Newcastle.

“This is super news, really super news,” Klopp added. “I’m very grateful to everyone at the club for making it happen. We’ve shown decisiveness and ambition in equal measure.”

Núñez said Liverpool’s ambition and style of play were key reasons behind his decision to join the club. “I’ve played against Liverpool and I’ve seen them in lots of games in the Champions League, and it’s my style of play,” he said. “There are some great players here and I think it’s going to suit my style of play here. As I say, I’ve watched quite a lot and it’s a very big club and I hope I can give everything that I’ve got in order to help the team.”

Núñez insisted he was not feeling any pressure to deliver instant rewards for the Reds, despite the lofty transfer figure. The Uruguayan referenced the same situation when he left Almería to join Benfica for a club record €24m in 2020.

“I don’t feel any added pressure at all,” he said. “I went to Benfica and they asked me the same question then. I don’t think a player has to feel this type of pressure, a player has to feel his own pressure that he puts on himself. I don’t feel pressured by anything or anybody, I think the only pressure on a player comes from within to ensure things go well. So, no extra pressure. I think I must have been performing pretty well to find myself at Liverpool. I want to make sure that I keep performing well, keep on the right path and don’t deviate from that path, while always remaining humble and keeping my feet on the ground.”

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