Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler has questioned Darwin Nuñez, admitting he is unconvinced Jurgen Klopp will ever be able to convert the striker's 'rawness' into that of a title-winning forward.
Handed the number nine shirt – that Fowler once sported – this summer, Nuñez has largely impressed in his second season at Liverpool, scoring seven times and registering five assists in 18 outings so far.
After starting the season behind Cody Gakpo in the pecking order, the 24-year-old has seemingly solidified himself as Klopp's preferred central attacking option, forming a lethal partnership with Mohamed Salah and scoring important goals – including match-winning strikes against Newcastle and Bournemouth.
Recently Klopp insisted Nuñez's difficult period of adaptation was a thing of the past, with the striker now over the teething problems that hampered his first year on Merseyside.
However, despite his upturn in form, the former Benfica star remains far from the finished article and questions remain over his occasionally erratic finishing.
Nuñez made it four Liverpool games without a goal in Saturday's 1-1 draw with Manchester City, despite having four shots.
Fowler wrote: "How long do you give him? He arrived at Anfield almost 18 months ago now, and yet we are still talking about this potential, this ‘exciting rawness’. But you can’t go through your entire career being raw, can you?
"I do feel sympathy for Nunez, because he arrived at Liverpool at the same time Haaland came into the Premier League, and patently, the difference is massive, even if the City striker cost less, and their experience level was strikingly similar."
On the Liverpool forward's finishing in Saturday's game, Fowler added: "Nunez was in a similar position [to the one Haaland scored from] with the defence retreating in front of him, and that same space opened up in front of him. But there was no touch to open up a good shooting angle. Instead he was waiting for something to happen in front of him.
"You could say he perhaps looked as though he didn’t have the confidence to shoot, but he scored twice for Uruguay only four days ago! He also scored a massive goal against Argentina a week before. So maybe it’s not confidence, belief or whatever. Maybe it’s who he is as a striker."
Fowler concluded that while the Reds are the best-placed team to topple City in the Premier League this season, he fears Nuñez won't ever become the striker Liverpool need to consistently 'kill off' teams in a title challenge.
He wrote: "I know you’ll think I’m stating the blindingly obvious. But we saw at the Etihad Liverpool are likely to be the strongest challengers to City this season. It was a hard earned, deserved point, and they will get better.
"But my fear for them is, without the decisive speed of thought and movement up front, will they be able to kill off the teams like Luton where they have dropped points already this season?
"I do hope that Klopp will convert the rawness of Nunez into something special that allows Liverpool to win the title, as Gary Neville suggested, but I’m not yet convinced it will happen."