Arne Slot can UNLOCK Darwin Nunez just like he did with Santiago Gimenez

The enigma that is Darwin Nunez continues to perplex.

While he has shown some promising moments this season, the 24-year-old has also been missing during some crucial moments when Liverpool really needed him to step up.

Incoming head coach Arne Slot is renowned for improving his players, and striker Santiago Gimenez is a prime example of this.

Slot turned the €6 million signing, who had never returned a double-digit goalscoring season, into a lethal poacher who has now scored 47 goals in just two seasons for Feyenoord.

Like Nunez, Gimenez was a high-potential player who was very raw when he arrived from Cruz Azul in Liga MX.

Let’s look at how the strikers compare in some key areas, and how Slot can unlock Nunez just like he did with the Mexican.

Nunez v Gimenez: Non-Penalty Expected Goals (NPxG)

A big indicator of a striker's quality is their ability to regularly get on the end of goalscoring opportunities, and having the single-mindedness to keep doing this despite occasional misses.

Non-Penalty Expected Goals (NPxG) is a metric that provides insight into that. Gimenez’s NPxG shot up from just 0.27 per 90 to 0.69 and 0.73 per 90 in successive seasons in the Eredivisie.

Almost 25 percent of Feyenoord’s NPxG falls to Gimenez showing that he is the clear focal point of their atack. The philosophy of his Dutch manager to play an attractive, dominant and aggressive style of football provides a platform to get the best out of his strikers.

Nunez’s figure of 0.67 per 90 highlights his equally impressive ability to consistently get into excellent goalscoring positions. Klopp’s men are top of the league for NPxG but in comparison, their goalscoring opportunities are more spread out between their attackers.

Slot’s arrival will continue to benefit Liverpool’s attackers, and Nunez needs to continue doing what he is doing and get on the receiving end of those chances.

Are Liverpool creating good enough chances for Nunez?

The performance of strikers is also influenced by the quality of chances created for them. Looking at the average quality of these goalscoring opportunities that both Nunez and Gimenez get gives us some interesting insight.

With a non-penalty xG per shot (NPxG/shot) value of 0.19, Gimenez has benefitted from operating in a team that is creating higher average quality of chances for him.

Nunez’s NPxG/shot figure of 0.14 (47th percentile) shows that he needs to do a lot more work to score his goals. Even the likes of Dominic Calvert Lewin or Dominic Solanke get better average quality of chances in comparison.

Darwin Nunez Jurgen Klopp

Darwin Nunez Jurgen Klopp

It’s not like Liverpool don’t create high quality chances, it's just that they don’t frequently fall to Nunez.

A lot of his xG comes from the higher volume but lower quality of opportunities he creates for himself by tirelessly running the channels, taking on opponents, and attempting shots from distance.

Slot’s system favours a strong number 9, so his appointment could be very good news for the fortunes of the Uruguayan.

Striker's shooting accuracy has rocketed under Arne Slot

Gimenez made a big improvement to his shooting numbers under Slot. He used to get around 33% of his shots on target in his final season in Mexico, and that figure remained about the same in his first season at Feyenoord. But this season it has shot up to 46.5 %. 

Despite taking fewer shots the 23-year-old is now getting more of them on target. The focus on quality instead of quantity has paid huge dividends and has seen him score an impressive 21 league goals at a higher rate than last season.

Nunez on the other hand is a high volume shooter and has taken 4.68 shots per 90 this season, which is more than any other striker in the Premier League. 

Santiago Gimenez Arne Slot

Santiago Gimenez Arne Slot

But he isn't composed in front of goal and often takes scruffy and speculative attempts leading to a much lower shooting accuracy of around 42% in both his seasons on Merseyside.

The location of their shots is also interesting. Nunez takes his shots from an average distance of around 15 yards from goal, while Gimenez benefits from taking his shots closer to goal (13 yards).

Slot’s set-up tends to create better chances for his strikers that are closer to goal, which is bound to favour Nunez.

Message to Nunez: Simplify your game

It is clear to anyone who has been watching Nunez that he is willing to do anything to help his team - sometimes one too many things for his own good.

This shows up in the numbers as the Liverpool No.9 has more assists, key passes, carries, and is involved in more defensive actions than most forwards, including Gimenez.

While you can’t fault him for his effort, it is possible that all the other actions are distracting him from his primary objective which is to score goals. 

This has been evident for many of his misses this season. he does not seem composed and lashes out at chances instead of keeping a cooler head and placing them beyond the keeper.

Gimenez on the other hand is given clear instructions that limit his involvement but play to his strengths in the box. Slot has the ability to clearly transmit these ideas to the players, which sees them quickly respond and implement them on the pitch.

For Nunez, there are too many things going on in his head, so doing less might result in more impact. This message from the new manager alongside some focussed work in training can bring about a more ruthless finisher next season.

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