Darwin Nunez has got off to a great start for his new club, and he has Jurgen Klopp and some of his Liverpool teammates to thank for that.
The 22-year-old made the move to Anfield in a £64million deal, which could rise to £85m, from Benfica and has been quick to get off the mark.
Nunez netted four second-half goals as Liverpool defeated RB Leipzig 5-0 earlier in pre-season.
The Uruguay international has since followed this up by scoring during Liverpool’s 3-1 victory over Manchester City in the Community Shield.
He caused havoc for Pep Guardiola’s side after coming on in the second half, his header leading to Ruben Dias to handling the ball inside the box, which allowed Mohamed Salah to put the Reds 2-1 up, before heading home from close range to seal the victory.
He had some tough moments in earlier pre-season matches and, Nunez reveals ‘extreme nerves’ proved a problem for him in the beginning.
“To be honest, the first weeks I was extremely nervous, so much that I was missing even the simplest pass,” he told SportsCenter.
“It was really difficult to get used to being with the team at the beginning.”
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Nunez later revealed how teammates Salah and Luis Diaz as well as Reds boss Jurgen Klopp, helped him to settle into his new surroundings.
“But as time went by, they [the team] made me feel comfortable,” Nunez added. “I had a talk with Salah that helped me a lot. Then with the Brazilians, with Luis Diaz, who’s also a new guy here.
“It’s really difficult to come to a big club like Liverpool and not to feel that pressure. And I felt that.
“The manager (Klopp) has talked a lot with me. He’s always pushing me forward and has given me the trust and I aim to pay that trust back on pitch.”
Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk also gave advice to Nunez, telling him to take some tips from Brazil international Roberto Firmino.
“He has to just keep working and keep learning. We play in a way that as a striker, you do a lot of defending as well. That’s something strikers have to learn,” Van Dijk said.
“Bobby obviously mastered it and I think he’s one of the best ones in that position to do it.
“For Darwin to learn from Bobby, but also bring his own qualities into the game with runs in behind, mixing it up, it’s good. He can mix it up, and he can defend from the front.”
There was consternation among a section of the fanbase when Sadio Mane was allowed to leave for Bayern Munich in the summer to pave the way for Nunez’s arrival for what could be a club-record fee.
However, the 23-year-old has already shown in bursts the impact he can have and while he does not have the same skillset of Mane, he offers Liverpool an option up front they have not previously had.
“Obviously he is a totally different player to Sadio, for example, but we have moved on,” added Van Dijk.
“We got him in, different player, different qualities, and we can use those in a positive way.
“It was a good start but it’s only a start. Hopefully there will be many more times, and we are all confident.
“To score that goal was important, but for him it’s the same as it was for me; the transfer fee is not something you should think about. I don’t think he does.
“He just has to keep his head down, work hard and be important for the club. I think he showed that.”
The Dutchman added Nunez has to ignore the hype around his arrival and deliver on the pitch.
“I’m not going to give him too much advice but obviously he will know that he has to focus on his own game and not what others have to say,” he said.
“There is pressure on players who are coming in with a big price tag, but what can you do? You come in to perform, and the club pays a transfer fee for you.
“You just have to work, and in his case try to score as many goals as possible.
“He has to not look at, for example, what all you guys (in the media) say about him after a game. He has to just focus on himself and get settled in as quickly as possible.
“The only way to do that is to learn from training, learn from the games you play, and don’t look at what others have to say about you and your performances.
“That, for me, is the key to success. You can get distracted by all that.”
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