Liverpool striker Darwin Nunez has been told the exploits of goal machine Erling Haaland are affecting him mentally after the club-record signing wasted several gilt-edged chances against Rangers in the Champions League.
Nunez moved to Anfield in an initial £64m deal that will ultimately cost a club-record £85.1m. However, the former Benfica frontman has endured something of a frustrating time at Anfield so far. Indeed, he has just one goal and one assist so far, while also having to serve a three-match ban after seeing red against Crystal Palace.
Indeed, questions are starting to being asked about the wisdom of signing Nunez.
His miserable time in front of goal continued on Tuesday night as he wasted a string of chances against Rangers. Indeed, with visiting keeper Allan McGregor in imperious form, the Uruguayan was denied three times in the first half.
The best of those chances came when he found himself through on goal but the veteran keeper stood tall to parry away his effort.
That did not matter in the grand scheme of things with goals from Trent Alexander-Arnold and Mohamed Salah earning the Reds a 2-0 win.
But it was another night of personal frustration for Nunez, who still awaits his first goal for Liverpool at Anfield.
After seeing that third chance squandered, BT Sport commentator Darren Fletcher said: “They are having a personal battle tonight and Darwin Nunez is coming off second best. That’s three times now he’s denied him.”
Nunez then saw a shot sail high over the bar as the second half got underway.
“He seems desperate for a goal tonight, he’s so hungry to make an impression,” Fletcher added. “It’s been a bit of a stop-start time for him at Liverpool, hasn’t it.”
Erling Haaland success affecting Darwin Nunez
Nunez’s struggles in front of goal are a direct contrast to Manchester City’s summer striker signing Haaland. Indeed, the Norwegian powerhouse has three consecutive hat-tricks in the Premier League and already has 17 goals across 11 outings in all competitions.
Indeed, you can see Haaland’s ridiculous stats in all their glory here.
Now, former Liverpool defender Jose Enrique reckons Haaland’s form in front of goal is starting to affect Nunez.
The two big-money signings have been compared from the off given their high-profile signings.
However, there is clearly only one winner and Enrique reckons it’s all starting to get a bit much for the Liverpool man.
“It’s a difficult situation for Nunez and the price tag that Liverpool paid for him and the price tag that City paid for Haaland,” Enrique told Lord Ping.
“Haaland is flying, he’s not. It’s definitely affecting him mentally. It’s not helping him get into form.
“The team performance doesn’t help and under Klopp, Liverpool always play with a false nine and he’s a proper number nine.
“Liverpool needs to adapt to him as well. It’s a worrying thing but Liverpool want to fight for everything and the player you signed to replace Mane isn’t playing. Firmino and Jota should be playing ahead of him at the moment.”
Liverpool man told to focus on his own game
Nunez’s night came to an end after 80 mins when Harvey Elliott replaced him, having drawn another blank.
But in order to improve his own game, Enrique has told Nunez he needs to forget about Haaland and simply think about himself.
Enrique went onto suggest that Nunez “should be focusing on his performances” and he needs to “forget about Haaland”:
“Haaland’s form shouldn’t affect Nunez but players always compare themselves with other players. The two teams competing for the Premier League in the last few seasons both signed big players,” Enrique continued.
“I believe he has to put it to one side but I remember one comment in the summer on Twitter he put a silence emoji and I thought that he shouldn’t reply to it.
“He should be focusing on his performance, improving his English and forget about Haaland.
“A lot of people go at Haaland but it never affects him. Darwin is lacking that right now.”