Liverpool has witnessed only a fraction of Darwin Núñez’s potential, with the striker’s impact compared unfavorably to his peers, including Cody Gakpo. However, the remedy for this lies in a clear formula.
Despite arriving at Liverpool 15 months ago, Núñez completed a full season’s worth of Premier League appearances (38) only in the recent Merseyside derby. Suffering from cramps post his standout performance in Uruguay’s victory over Brazil, he started on the bench but provided an assist for Mohamed Salah’s second goal upon entering the pitch.
Out of the 47 league matches since his arrival, Núñez has been unavailable for nine, six due to injury and three from suspension following his red card debut against Crystal Palace. While some instances involved being fit for the bench but not the starting lineup, most of his omissions were tactical. His starting rate stands at just 47 percent (22 out of 47).
Jürgen Klopp has an impressive array of attacking options, with Salah, Diogo Jota, Luis Díaz, and Cody Gakpo providing alternatives to Núñez. Tactical decisions, form, and rotation have often led to Núñez making way, and he has just surpassed the 2,000-minute mark in the Premier League.
Interestingly, Núñez has started fewer games than Jordan Henderson (23) since his arrival, despite Henderson leaving the club in the summer. He’s on par with Gakpo and just three games ahead of Harvey Elliott and Joe Gomez. Moreover, the Uruguayan seldom completes the games he starts, having played 90 minutes only six times and averaging just 54 minutes per appearance. Since the start of last season, he has been substituted more times (16) than any of his teammates.
The key to Núñez’s much-anticipated “explosion” is clear: consistent inclusion in the starting lineup and delivering performances that warrant longer playing time. Achieving these two objectives will undoubtedly lead to improved statistics, unlocking the full potential that many have predicted for Núñez. Until then, Liverpool has experienced only a fraction, precisely 47 percent, of what he can offer.