06 Nov 2022 - Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool - Premier League - Tottenham Hotspur Stadium Darwin Nunez applauds the Liverpool fans after the game against Tottenham Hotspur.

5 stats that suggest Darwin Nunez will explode for Liverpool in 2023-24

Darwin Nunez finished his first season in Liverpool having impressed in spells, but ultimately leaving a lot to be desired in the eyes of many.

The Uruguayan striker completed a club-record £85million move from Benfica to the Reds, and was immediately thrust into a head-to-head rivalry with incoming Manchester City forward Erling Haaland.

But while Haaland would go on to score 52 goals in 53 games as he lifted a continental treble, Nunez could only manage 15 goals from 42 games in all competitions.

His season was somewhat unforgettable, though – only because TikToker Pete_BOC decided to bring out a new Nunez-themed song every week.

We don’t have 27 reasons why Nunez will flourish next season like Pete might, but we do have five. Despite a slow start, the signs are positive.

Non-penalty expected goals per 90 (npxG)

Per FBref, Nunez finished the 2022-23 Premier League season with a 0.94 npxG tally, putting him in the 94th percentile of players compared.

Only Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland finished with a better npxG stat. Goals of course are what matters in the end, but Nunez is consistently on the end of high-quality chances to score, and putting high-quality shots at goalkeepers. It’s merely a case of settling down and tucking them away.

He’ll get there.

Expected assisted goals per 90 (xAG)

Similarly to his npxG, Nunez’s xAG per 90 is impressive. It’s even more impressive considering he was signed as a big, physical centre forward expected to poach chances and be a nuisance in the box.

But as Jurgen Klopp improvised throughout the season, he opted to play Nunez off the left flank, and he looked good. Really good. The 23-year-old proved he was much more than a one-trick pony, demonstrating awareness and the technical ability to make it count.

In terms of traditional strikers, nobody is bettering his 0.29 xAG.

Progressive passes received per 90 

The Uruguayan received an average of 9.61 progressive passes per 90, suggesting that he continually made the correct kind of run and wound up in high-quality areas when Liverpool were on the attack.

It’s much more difficult if a striker isn’t scoring because they’re simply nowhere near the play, or look like a square peg in a round hole. But at just 23, Nunez looks the opposite, in what is his first season in English football where expectations were tremendously high.

When you command an £85million fee and are being compared to an actual superhuman freak in the form of Haaland, it’s bound to weigh on you a little bit. Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold during the Premier League match against Tottenham Hotspur at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London, November 2022.

READ: Trent Alexander-Arnold: What 7 pundits & managers have said about TAA’s superb midfield displays

Liverpool’s second top scorer in 2022-23

Among all the bad press, it’s very easy to forget that in his first season as a Red, the only player to actually outscore Nunez was Mohamed Salah.

For him to have outscored the man that has fired Liverpool into Premier League and Champions League winning positions over the last several years, in his first season in English football, would’ve taken some doing.

15 goals in all competitions, considering the criticism and the pressure, certainly isn’t a terrible return.

Goals in big games

Nunez managed a brace in the 7-0 thrashing of Manchester United, put the seal on victory in the Community Shield against Manchester City, and managed goals against Real Madrid, Arsenal and Newcastle.

In terms of putting in a productive performance in the games where all eyes were on him to score, he managed to do just that. Things would feel a lot more concerning if the 23-year-old had come in and drawn a blank or gone into his shell when the lights were shining brightest on him.

He’s proven he can score when it matters, he’s proven he has the mentality to push through, and his underlying numbers back it up.

READ NEXT: The 10 top-scoring substitutes in Prem history: Giroud, Solskjaer, Sturridge…

TRY A QUIZ: Can you name Liverpool’s Xl from their 3-1 win vs Olympiacos in 2004?