Jurgen Klopp exclusive interview: Liverpool boss hits out at early critics of Darwin Nunez and Erlin
Jurgen Klopp believes critics were too quick to judge new Premier League strikers Erling Haaland and Darwin Nunez and brands the latter as a “proper striker” ahead of his Liverpool home debut.
Last week, Nunez came off the bench to score one and set up another in the Reds’ 2-2 draw with Fulham on the opening weekend of the Premier League season – with the Uruguayan hoping to add more to his tally in the Monday Night Football clash with Crystal Palace, live on Sky Sports.
But Klopp believes too much was made of Nunez’s first pre-season game, which saw Liverpool lose 4-0 to Erik ten Hag’s Manchester United in Bangkok with the Reds forward missing one big opportunity in particular.
“Five weeks ago, when we started pre-season and he had his first game and it didn’t look great from the outside world,” Klopp tells Soccer Saturday reporter Bianca Westwood. “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.”
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The Liverpool manager also believes Manchester City striker Haaland received similar treatment when Pep Guardiola’s team lost the Community Shield clash with Klopp’s side earlier this month.
The Norwegian striker has gone on to score two goals and set up one in his opening two Premier League matches in City colours.
“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?’,” Klopp added. “A week is like 10 years in football!”
Meanwhile, Klopp believes the solutions to Liverpool’s midfield problems lie within his squad after admitting “it doesn’t look like something will happen” over a summer signing.
Thiago Alcantara has been ruled out for up to six weeks having limped off with a hamstring injury during the 2-2 draw with Fulham.
Liverpool were without fellow midfielders Naby Keita, Curtis Jones and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain due to injury and illness, although Keita will be involved against Palace.
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“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 said.
“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.