Jurgen Klopp is blown away by Liverpool’s welcome in Bangkok
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Jurgen Klopp has already outlined that a timeframe for how long it could take Darwin Nunez to adapt to playing for Liverpool after the £85million man’s underwhelming debut against Manchester United. The Uruguayan striker missed a golden chance in the pre-season exhibition match, which was won 4-0 by the Red Devils in Bangkok.
The Reds were undone by their bitter rivals in the friendly clash after Klopp fielded a youthful side, but fans were treated to a first glimpse of Nunez, who arrived for a club-record fee from FC Porto earlier this summer. However, Klopp was forced to defend his new main man after a subdued display.
Speaking after the match, Klopp said: “What you could see is the boys were already searching for him. It was his third session [since arriving for pre-season training] and I think after the third sprint his lungs were nearly ready to explode. We nearly killed him with these balls but he offered the runs and the boys wanted to pass the ball, that is for sure one of his strengths. He was dangerous, all these kinds of things.
“So Darwin, we will see. I think his profile is a proper number nine so that’s helpful with speed and aggression and using his body, all these kinds of things.”
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While Klopp was keen to stress that Nunez was still adapting to the physical demands of playing for Liverpool, it is paramount that the 23-year-old is given time to adapt to the tactical demands that playing for a Klopp team brings – something that Klopp himself alluded to shortly after Fabinho’s arrival back in 2018.
Klopp said back then: “It’s a football team with a specific way of playing. It needs time, and they were all used to other football teams. So you have natural runs in a team. Like, let me say, a very famous movement here was Phil Coutinho. Half left, [cut] inside, nice shot! For this one, you needed somebody to overlap and make it difficult to defend, so that one defender at least is busy. Things like that explain it. It’s completely normal.
“There’s no time to say, ‘I give you that, or that’, but it will happen. Because the game is so quick and intense, it needs to get natural. It’s not about changing these players, we want their football personality. They are here because of what they did.
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“Three or five weeks sound like a long time in football, but to improve something you can give half a year, to really make the next step. That’s it.”
The German’s high-octane philosophy is not necessarily something that players can slot straight into. Although there have been examples of players who have adapted surprisingly well – like January recruit Luis Diaz – the vast majority of Klopp’s signings are eased into the team.
Ibrahima Konate, Liverpool’s sole summer capture last year, is the perfect example. The Frenchman took time to adapt to not only the Premier League, but also to the Reds’ swashbuckling style. A year on from his move, the 23-year-old has now emerged as the prime candidate to partner Virgil van Dijk at the back; despite his shaky start to life in England.
It wouldn’t be a total surprise if Klopp adopted a similar patient approach with Nunez – even though the striker was primarily signed to fill the void left by Sadio Mane.
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