Michael Owen gives harsh verdict on Darwin Nuñez after Bournemouth wonderstrike

Former Liverpool striker Michael Owen described Darwin Nuñez as 'still rough around the edges' following the Uruguayan's wonder goal on Wednesday.

The Reds qualified for the last eight of the Carabao Cup with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium, with play impacted by the difficult conditions brought on by Storm Ciaran.

The effect of the wind and rain was in evidence for Nuñez's second-half winner, as the Reds' number nine failed to control a cross-field pass from Trent Alexander-Arnold.

However, Nuñez quickly recovered to beat Chris Mepham and lash his strike past goalkeeper Ionuț Radu from range.

READ MORE: 5 Talking points from Liverpool's Carabao Cup win over Bournemouth

The goal marked the 24-year-old's seventh of the season in all competitions, while he also has four assists to date.

Impressively, Nuñez is now averaging a direct goal involvement every 61 minutes in 2023/24, as he improves on a mixed first campaign at Liverpool.

Despite his fine form, the former Benfica striker's style has drawn criticism from some quarters, while others – Owen included – see room for improvement.

The 43-year-old, who scored 158 times for the Reds and lifted the Ballon d'Or in 2001, wrote on X: "That goal from Darwin Nunez on Tuesday night sums him up at this stage of his career. There’s an unbelievable player in there somewhere but he’s still so rough around the edges."

Owen's implication that Nuñez has the potential to get even better is valid. The striker famously struggled in his first year at Benfica, before exploding with 34 goals in his second season and earning his big-money move to Liverpool.

A similar story looks to be unfolding at Anfield.

However, calling Nuñez 'so rough around the edges' undermines how effective he already is – particularly in the context of one poor first touch in a literal storm.

Along with his impressive goals and assists tally this season, it was recently highlighted that, since the 2021/22 season, Nuñez actually has the second-highest non-penalty xG (expected goals) per 90 of any player in the Premier League, behind only Erling Haaland.

While he may miss chances and occasionally fluff his lines, Nuñez is undoubtedly – as Anfield Watch's Sam McGuire writes – an 'elite chance-getter', and that is making the difference for Liverpool.
As well as forming a formidable partnership with Mohamed Salah, Nuñez has also risen to the big occasions for the Reds this season, scoring key goals against Newcastle and West Ham, as well as Bournemouth.

Meanwhile, another Liverpool legend, Jamie Carragher had a more succinct take on the wonder goal, simply posting: "Captain choas! #Nunez".

Reflecting on his forward's strike after the game, Jurgen Klopp said: "It's an unbelievable goal. There were much bigger chances in the whole game - five, six or seven - but that was the goal we needed."

When asked if Nuñez used the wind to his advantage with the dipping effort, the manager replied: "If you can do that, that's really good! That would be outstanding. You'd have to ask him, I didn't - I just enjoyed the goal."

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