Andy Robertson has said it is unfair to compare Darwin Núñez with Erling Haaland and that the Liverpool striker’s goals ratio represents an impressive start.
The Uruguay international has scored in his past four starts for Liverpool, including Wednesday’s win at Ajax that secured a place in the Champions League knockout stage. Núñez has six goals from 13 Liverpool appearances, although he has made only seven starts because of suspension and injury.
Comparisons were drawn between the 23-year-old and Haaland in the summer when Liverpool and Manchester City spent big on two young, coveted forwards. Robertson believes the parallels serve neither player well and their effectiveness, along with their adaptation to English football, should be considered in isolation.
The Liverpool left-back, who delivered the corner for Núñez’s headed goal in Amsterdam, said: “The only reason they are getting compared is because they play in the same position and moved in the same window. It is not fair on anyone. If it was vice versa, it would not be fair on Haaland either.
“They are two incredible players and we are delighted to have Darwin here. He is still young, which everyone forgets, and in front of goal he has been really clinical. He has maybe not played as many minutes with the three-game ban, a couple of injuries and he is still adapting, but he is getting there. Against Ajax, you could really see what his threats are and he caused them a lot of problems and they were already worried about him.”
Núñez missed a gilt-edged chance to score against Ajax when hitting a post from Roberto Firmino’s unselfish pass just before the interval. His second-half response was the sign of a gifted goalscorer, Robertson said. “It is a big miss at the end of the first half but good strikers react. “He was really disappointed at half-time but he used that disappointment to his advantage in terms of being angry and wanting to be in front of goal again. He did not shy away from that.”
Núñez, signed for an initial £64m from Benfica, has admitted his lack of English has complicated the adaptation period but Robertson has seen progress on and off the pitch. He described Núñez’s goals-to-minutes ratio as “very good” and said: “There is a language barrier but you can see he is a nice guy. He is trying with his English and you respect that so much. He is asking us lots of questions and it will take time to get better but we are there to help him. He has settled in really well.”
Jürgen Klopp has been fined £30,000 after accepting a charge of improper conduct over his red card during Liverpool’s recent win against Manchester City. Liverpool’s manager was sent off in the 86th minute for haranguing the assistant referee Gary Beswick. An independent regulatory commission met to consider Klopp’s response and decide his punishment for a breach of FA Rule E3.
The Football Association and Klopp can appeal against the sanction once they receive the commission’s written reasons.