Jurgen Klopp defends under-fire Darwin Nunez after future speculation escalates

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp launched a concerted defence of under-fire striker Darwin Nunez after speculation about his future escalated.

Following Sunday’s 4-2 win over Tottenham, the Uruguay international, who missed a relatively-simple one-on-one with goalkeeper Guglielmo Vicario after coming on as a substitute, deleted all pictures of him playing for Liverpool from his Instagram account.

That led to increased conjecture about the 24-year-old, who has enjoyed a mixed couple of seasons since joining from Benfica for a potential club-record £85million transfer fee.

“It must be external because I don’t know about this. There is no speculation right now, it’s just a situation we are in,” he said.

“Darwin was definitely not happy missing that chance. He is unlucky, let me say that. He was unlucky in so many situations where he is doing everything right but the ball still doesn’t go in.

“That’s really tough for a young man. He has big expectations on himself. There is no alternative than going through it, that’s what he’s doing right now.

“We try to help him with all we can but you have to go through it, everyone has to go through this. That’s part of a footballer’s career.

“All his problem is that he is that good, he is constantly in these moments. If he was less good, he would not have chances. People just say, ‘That’s not great’.

“How many goals did he score? He is not too bad with numbers right. Eighteen goals (in all competitions). They are not bad numbers.

“Because of his quality everyone says, ‘Ah, again, again’ because we did not score. If somebody else would have scored in that moment and it would not have felt that bad.

“Nobody likes it but it’s part of a career.”

Liverpool’s Darwin Nunez (left) has a shot saved by Tottenham goalkeeper Guglielmo Vicario
Darwin Nunez (left) missed a one-on-one with Tottenham goalkeeper Guglielmo Vicario (Peter Byrne/PA)

However, he is confident he can manage that.

“I know that already for a long time. We could turn it around and say I only got two yellow cards – some of my colleagues got suspended, right? I got calmer over the years, obviously,” he added.

“I don’t need to (be on the touchline for the last day) but it would be cool that I could do that. It will not be from my side, I will try absolutely everything to try not get involved in any kind of discussions.”

The club have announced a farewell question and answer evening with Klopp at the MS Bank Arena in Liverpool for fans to say their goodbyes.

“I had a lot of evenings with Jurgen Klopp. I’ve no clue what happens that night,” he said.

“I assume it will probably be good. No pressure on the people organising it but it would be nice if it could be a little bit funny. John Bishop is there right? Then there’s a good chance it will be funny.”

Liverpool’s former sporting director Julian Ward, who only left the club last summer, is to return as technical director for owners Fenway Sports Group.

Ward will be reunited with predecessor Michael Edwards, who was appointed FSG’s football chief executive a couple of months ago.

Benfica’s sporting director Pedro Marques is to join as FSG’s director of football development.

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