Football is a hot-take hellscape and Liverpool’s Darwin Nunez is burning

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Darwin Nunez playing for Liverpool in a pre-season friendly. Rajamangala National Stadium, Bangkok, Thailand - July 12, 2022.

Just over a month has passed since Liverpool completed the signing of Darwin Nunez.

We’re still only a few short weeks into the club’s pre-season and Nunez is still getting to know his new team-mates.

Do we know if the Uruguay international will prove a successful signing for Jurgen Klopp’s Reds?

We can hazard a guess that given the club’s recent track record of big-money acquisitions and Nunez’s form at Benfica that yes, in all likelihood, he’ll do alright.

But that’s just a prediction. Do we know for certain how the £85million man will fare at Liverpool? No, we don’t. Nobody does. Ask us again in a year or two. Welcome to the concept of linear time.

Yet, somehow in this hyper-accelerated content mill and the desperation to deliver definitive hot takes on Twitter, we’ve already gone through an entire exhausting narrative cycle.

Here are a selection of recent headlines about the striker’s time at Liverpool to date:

“Fan Creates Brutal Video Of Darwin Nunez’s Liverpool Debut Against Man United”, “Darwin Nunez Struggling Start At Liverpool Continue With Crystal Palace Performance”, “What Darwin Nunez’s pre-season ‘struggles’ tell us about Liverpool’s Premier League title hopes next season”, “Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp defends Darwin Nunez amid online criticism after Man United defeat”, “Jurgen Klopp responds as Darwin Nunez silences critics with stunning four-goal haul”.

Nunez has played 104 minutes of football for Liverpool.

His ‘disasterclass’ debut? A 28-minute cameo off the bench, when Liverpool were already 3-0 down to United, a game in which Klopp fielded no fewer than 32 different players on the night.

His ‘struggles’ against Crystal Palace? Thirty-two minutes off the bench in a 2-0 win against Crystal Palace’s kids. One of 11 changes at the break. Just the 29 players used by Klopp for that one.

‘Silencing the critics’ against RB Leipzig? It’s July! Have we all lost our minds?

Nunez shouldn’t have critics until he plays a competitive match for Liverpool. The concept of silencing them at all at this stage is frankly farcical.

This all feels so blindingly obvious. Memes comparing Nunez to Andy Carroll are obviously a tongue-in-cheek piss-take. Since when did we start taking banter accounts with Cristiano Ronaldo avatars seriously?

Since September 2019, apparently, when Pep Guardiola suffered the terrible indignity of actually saying out loud the word “Fraudiola“. One of the greatest tactical thinkers in the history of football reduced to engaging with the tedious memes of literal 13-year-olds. Now Klopp has suffered the same fate.

“I’m not worried at all,” Klopp responded to ESPN after Nunez’s brief cameo debut against Manchester United.

“The general judgement [on Nunez] is absolutely nil interest [to us]. It will be like this, and we all know it.

“It’s kind of a game or a joke for some people to pick out some situations where a player’s not doing well. That’s only a game from [fans of] other clubs, which is normal. Our fans probably do [the same] with signings of Manchester United. We cannot take this seriously.”

The Liverpool manager was spot on, of course, but it’s depressing it even needed saying after a 28-minute appearance in a friendly. The “defence” of his player sounded as if he was yet to open his account in the Premier League come November.

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READ: The 5 players with the best mins-per-goal ratio in 21-22: Darwin Nunez top

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Internet nonsense has its place. And laughing at the failures of your rival club’s big-money flops is one of football’s pure joys. Liverpool fans know this all too well when it comes to Manchester United in recent years, and the pain of being on the receiving end of it themselves in years gone by.

There’s nothing wrong with laughing at Nunez’s first shonky attempts at goal. Hell, let it get your hopes up that he’ll be a colossal waste of money if you really want.

But a few clunky touches doesn’t mean that he’ll be a flop any more than four goals against RB Leipzig mean that he’s destined to win the Premier League Golden Boot.

The golden rule to remember is that none of this really means anything. Fernando Torres looked pretty useless in his first friendly appearance for Liverpool. Yaya Sanogo once scored four goals for Arsenal in a friendly against Benfica.

Yet Klopp suggested that the guff spouted online is not only noticed by the players but actually has an effect. It’s quietly mindblowing that an asset that cost the best part of £100million is even aware of what @SanchoGOAT01 is saying, let alone cares, yet here we are.

“We always think that if you pay a lot of money then the players feel no pressure or whatever,” the Liverpool boss told reporters after Nunez’s four-goal haul. “They are all completely normal human beings and the first touch is not perfect then all of a sudden…

“This generation of players read social media, which is really not smart, but they do. All of a sudden you get in a rush and these kinds of things.

“That’s the best way obviously to stop all these discussions. He’s a different striker to what we have or what we had, but he’s a really good one.”

The time to judge Nunez, like all this summer’s signings, will soon come. But have some patience. We’re not there yet. Using a few friendlies to declare him the new Andy Carroll or the new Luis Suarez will only make you look daft.

By Nestor Watach


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