Premier League • England

Pundit predicts winner of Darwin Nunez, Diogo Jota striker battle as Liverpool set to reap rewards of squad depth

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp greeting striker Darwin Nunez

A pundit has given his verdict on who will be Jurgen Klopp’s first choice striker at Liverpool for most of the 2022-23 campaign.

Klopp can choose from Roberto Firmino, Darwin Nunez and Diogo Jota as things stand. Firmino is rumoured to be a target for Juventus, though Klopp insists he will not be going anywhere.

Nunez is aiming for a big season after his record-breaking £85million move from Benfica to Liverpool in mid June. This saw him become the Reds’ record signing, eclipsing the £75m they spent on Virgil van Dijk.

Jota, meanwhile, is looking to get back to full fitness after aggravating a hamstring injury during the club’s pre-season tour of Thailand. Klopp says he will be out for ‘a while’, but his exact return date is unknown.

Nunez has made a good impression since becoming a part of the Liverpool squad. Even though it was in a friendly, he hit four goals during a 5-0 thrashing of German club RB Leipzig on July 21.

And the 23-year-old made his Liverpool debut in the Community Shield against Manchester City. He came off the bench and helped Liverpool win 3-1, winning the penalty Mo Salah scored from and getting a goal of his own.

When Jota returns, it will be intriguing to see whether he manages to get back into the starting eleven or has to settle for a place on the bench.

During an interview with Football Insider, former West Ham and Celtic player Frank McAvennie gave his verdict on how the striker battle will pan out this season.

McAvennie heaps praise on Darwin Nunez

“He [Darwin Nunez] is a good striker, he’d be fighting for a first choice start anyway,” McAvennie said. “He’s come in and he’s scoring goals.

“I like him, he’s obviously come in and he’s enjoying it, you can see it on his face. He loves scoring goals so I think they’ve got enough strikers to frighten each other into playing well every week.

“That’s what you need in a big club. I think Nunez is thinking he’ll be number one. If Jota gets fit, will he be number one? I don’t know, this might have hindered him because of the injury.

“Nunez has come in and he’s going to be number one. There’s that many players that it’s going to be hard to tie down a place. But I think Nunez is going to be number one. Somebody will have to dethrone him and that will be hard to do.”

The pundit is right – it seems Nunez will need ‘dethroning’ if he continues to find the net for Liverpool. Jota is unlucky to fall down to second choice, after registering 21 goals in all competitions last term.

The Portugal international has shown he is able to be a reliable source of goals when coming off the bench. But Nunez is the big summer arrival and Liverpool fans will believe he can get 15 goals at the very least this season.

Despite the selection battle being stressful for the trio, Liverpool will reap the rewards of having three top central attackers in their squad.

Firmino is essentially the forgotten man in this situation. He has proven to be a loyal servant to the Reds over the years.

With the Brazilian’s contract running out next year, it is likely he will have one last campaign at Anfield before leaving in summer 2023. Liverpool will be hoping to give Firmino a few more trophies before he ends his successful spell on Merseyside.

Meanwhile, young Reds midfielder Tyler Morton will continue his development in the Championship after his parent club let him go out on loan.