What Arne Slot can learn from Marcelo Bielsa in order to get the BEST out of Darwin Nunez at Liverpool

Darwin Nunez's first two seasons at Liverpool were eventful, if nothing else. He's rarely ever out of the headlines.

The Uruguayan became an Anfield favourite, with his passion and all-action style standing out, and he seemed to connect with the fans from the off.

For all the love that comes Nunez's way, however, there are also detractors everywhere you look, whether that be among the Liverpool fanbase, rival supporters or in the media.

The 25-year-old's unpredictable finishing has been the main reason for the criticism that comes his way, with a plethora of bad misses making for YouTube compilations galore.

His all-round link-up play has also been found wanting at times, and there are some doubts over whether he has it in him to be a future Anfield great.

A tally of 33 goals in 96 appearances for the Reds is far from a disaster, but for a striker renowned for his ruthlessness at Benfica, it has to be considered disappointing.

Nunez thriving with Uruguay

There were times last season when patience started to wear thinner than ever with Nunez, with his profligacy costing Liverpool at key times, and many felt he and Luis Diaz were big reasons for Liverpool's Premier League title challenge falling short.

Debates have even taken place over whether the charismatic attacker will still be at Anfield beyond this summer, but new manager Arne Slot has put that argument to bed, saying he has clear plans for him when he returns to pre-season:

"I just told him that, from what I saw, he played multiple positions and what positions - or position - I see him playing. I assume he’ll fit really well into this playing style because I like him. I’ve told him that already; he’s one of the players I’ve spoken to."

One thing that will be of huge excitement to Slot is the impact that Nunez is making at international level this summer, performing impressively for a Uruguay side who have made it into the semi-finals of the Copa America, knocking out Alisson's Brazil along the way.

The Liverpool ace has scored twice in four appearances at the tournament, but aside from his goals, he is generally flourishing leading the line under the legendary Marcelo Bielsa.

Klopp failed to get the best from Darwin

Thriving up top in a 4-2-3-1 system, Nunez is looking every bit the £85 million player who traded Benfica for the Reds back in 2022, being hailed by the media back home.

He is also the leading goalscorer in South American qualification for the 2026 World Cup currently with five goals, further highlighting the impact he is having on the international stage.

Klopp got every ounce of so many players during his iconic stint as Liverpool manager, but Nunez is one who it could be argued got away, in that respect.

Darwin Nunez Uruguay

Darwin Nunez Uruguay

Whether it be as a central striker or out on the left-hand side, he hasn't yet truly felt in-sync with his teammates on a consistent basis, representing a square peg in a round hole too often.

That's not to say there haven't been great moments and performances - that dramatic late winner at Nottingham Forest last season, for example - but Nunez is still waiting to explode and fully convince.

While Slot should be using Klopp as inspiration in so many aspects of his job at Anfield, he needs to be looking at Bielsa's use of Nunez and trying to emulate that.

Arne Slot needs to learn from Bielsa

The Argentine's tactical brilliance and man management skills make him one of the most influential coaches of his generation, and he is working wonders with his striker, praising his ability to get into positions and backing him to improve further in front of goal:

"The only thing that concerns me is that he finds himself in the best position possible, as often as possible, to do what he does extraordinarily well, which is to score, to finish, to complete attacking moves, to choose where to direct the shot he's in a position to execute," said Bielsa.

"It would be contradictory if I said that what has value are the goals because I'm saying the opposite. If he scores, he scores; if he misses, he misses; does he know how to finish? He knows how to finish."

"What's the best way to support [a player who] doesn't need support because he has shown he can resolve it himself?

"By trying to ensure he has many opportunities to score goals."

There have been rumours linking Nunez with a move away from Liverpool this summer, with Fenerbahce reportedly making an offer for him, but he is going nowhere.

Nunez under pressure to deliver

It remains to be seen exactly how Slot will deploy the Uruguay star - the Dutchman can flit between 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-3 systems - but he has confirmed that he sees him as a key man, and his performances for his country are extremely encouraging.

With Cody Gakpo shining on the left for the Netherlands at Euro 2024, and injuries still a huge question mark against Diogo Jota, Nunez could go into the new season as Liverpool's go-to central striker.

There is no question that there is huge pressure on him to perform, and another hit-and-miss season will throw doubt over his long-term future on Merseyside, but he feels in a great place as the Slot era gets underway.

There is no player who many supporters would rather see succeed than Nunez, and it is going to be fascinating to see how he fares with Slot at the helm.

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