Things may finally be falling in place for Darwin Nunez at Liverpool.
The Uruguayan striker showed flashes of brilliance during his first season at Anfield – most notably in March’s infamous 7-0 victory over bitter rivals Manchester United – but struggled for consistency as the team around him stumbled.
He has started the first three games of the season on the bench for Jurgen Klopp’s side, but his impact off the bench against Newcastle on Sunday may have him leapfrogging some of the forward options currently ahead of him in the pecking order.
Nunez was introduced with just 13 minutes to go, and made an instant impact. With Liverpool 1-0 down, Nunez capitalised on a mistake from Sven Botman to equalise with nine minutes left on the clock, before grabbing a dramatic injury-time winner to ignite Liverpool’s season at St. James’s Park.
He may also have ignited his own career at the club.
Though Nunez did show regular flashes of his potential last season, there was a sense that he needed a day like Sunday to properly kickstart his time with the 19-time English champions, and he will now hope for a regular run of starting appearances for Liverpool.
Speaking to the media in his home of Uruguay, Nunez revealed the role that his international boss Marcelo Bielsa had played in his two-goal cameo at Newcastle.
The former Leeds boss has returned to management with the Uruguayan national team. Bielsa spent over a year away from football after departing Elland Road in February 2022 before taking over with La Celeste in May of this year.
Darwin Nunez is one of the strongest talents at Bielsa’s disposal, and the Liverpool striker revealed that the ex-Leeds boss had given him some sage advice which could plainly be seen in his goalscoring feats on Sunday.
Nunez said to Sport 890 in Montevideo:
“I had a chat with Bielsa over Zoom.
“Bielsa showed me some of my games things and corrected some things that seem positive to improve.
“He tells me to run behind the second centre-back so they lose my position. It was a very good talk. He seemed like a good guy to me and a serious guy.
“I hope to meet him next week and do my best for the team.
“I spoke with Luis [Suarez] on some occasion, [and said] that when he was not there I was going to take the no. 9 shirt of the national team, and I was going to represent him. I already asked the team to keep it for me. I feel prepared for this new stage. I am very confident.”
Not only has Bielsa endeared himself to Darwin Nunez with his kind nature, his advice was clearly taken, with both of Nunez’s two goals on Sunday coming from runs in behind a lost left centre-back.
Liverpool face Aston Villa at 2pm on Sunday, and Nunez will hope that he has done enough to earn a spot in the starting lineup. He will then link up with Bielsa for the upcoming international break, during which they will face Chile and Ecuador.