Impressive stat highlights just how important Darwin Nunez is for Liverpool

Having spent the majority of last season receiving bucketloads of criticism from every corner of the football universe, Darwin Nunez is finally coming good on his potential.

The striker has shown impressive mental fortitude, work ethic and character this campaign, silencing his critics with a string of brilliant performances and goal contributions.

Of course, there are still rough edges, but the former Benfica man and Liverpool's latest to don the famous number nine jersey is flying this term.

Nunez grabbed Liverpool's second during a 3-0 win over Nottingham Forest on Sunday, a poacher's goal from two yards out after Dominik Szoboszlai's fierce driven cross. The Uruguayan also made Diogo Jota's opener, his powerful effort being rebuffed into the Portuguese's path by Matt Turner.

Adding another to his tally at the weekend, Nunez now has six goals and five assists in all competitions this season, featuring 13 times for the Reds in the Premier League, Europa League and Carabao Cup.

The 24-year-old has not only been making decisive contributions in the final third, his general link-up and hold-up play has significantly improved, as well as his decision-making and his ability to press opposition defences.

While he was much-maligned for his profligacy last season, one impressive statistic shows that Nunez has been an incredibly useful asset for Liverpool ever since his arrival on Merseyside.

In a post on X, Squawka revealed that, since the 2021/22 season, Nunez has the second-highest non-penalty xG (expected goals) per 90 of any player in the Premier League, sitting only behind the unstoppable Erling Haaland.

Of players who have played 900 or more minutes in this period, only the Manchester City striker (0.78) outperforms Nunez (0.68). While this doesn't mean that Nunez is as prolific or well-rounded as the Norwegian, producing far fewer goal contributions, it shows his ability to create good goalscoring opportunities.

Liverpool have three other players in the top seven - Diogo Jota (0.59) in third, former Reds winger Sadio Mane (0.58) in fifth and Mohamed Salah (0.54) in sixth.

While Nunez has not been as clinical as these three since arriving on Merseyside, he has looked far more polished this season. Team this with the underlying numbers and Liverpool fans can be excited about the 20-cap international's development.

Nunez now has a total of 21 goals and nine assists in 55 games during his time with the Reds and the chaotic and much-loved centre-forward is becoming more pivotal at Anfield as the weeks pass.

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