The Uruguayan’s Double Against Newcastle Sparks Comparisons with Luis Suarez
The Match That Changed Everything
What threatened to be a hideous defeat to Newcastle on Sunday ended up being one of the most joyous away wins in Liverpool’s history, in an unfathomable turn of events. At 1-0 down and with Virgil van Dijk shown his marching orders, you could be forgiven for feeling incredibly downbeat, with absolutely nothing going right.
The Context: A Struggling Liverpool
Man City were already five points clear, not that a title race is necessarily any of the Reds’ business this season, and Newcastle looked like a team on the up who were looking down on a spiraling Liverpool. A lack of transfer activity only added to the gloom.
Then Nunez Happened
A Cameo for the Ages
The Uruguayan’s cameo was one for the ages, with two immaculate finishes silencing the home crowd and creating scenes of ecstasy up in the gods at St James’ Park. All of a sudden, everything felt better in the world and life had been injected into Liverpool’s season, at a time when it felt like it was falling apart before September had even arrived.
The Numbers Don’t Lie
Nunez has been scandalously written off by some after a solid first year at Anfield – one that still saw him score 15 goals in a struggling team – but this was a timely reminder of why such a huge amount was spent on him. Newcastle couldn’t handle the 24-year-old’s pace and power, and if last season he deserved an element of criticism for some erratic finishing, his two strikes on Tyneside were like Luis Suarez in his prime.
The Suarez Comparison: More Than Just Nationality?
A Tale of Two Seasons
Interestingly, Nunez and his legendary compatriot both scored 17 goals in their 45 appearances for the Reds, which goes to show why some of the negativity chucked in the former’s direction has been as embarrassing as it has been nonsensical. History suggests that Suarez was a world-beater from minute one for Liverpool, considering he is thought of by many to be the most talented player to ever represent the club, but that wasn’t the case at all.
The Road Ahead for Nunez
With Nunez now at Anfield for nearly 15 months, he could find himself at a similar point to where Suarez was at the beginning of 2012/13, waiting to explode and truly announce himself. It will be harder for him to make such an impact because of the incredible competition for places in Liverpool’s attack – Cody Gakpo and Diogo Jota are also fantastic central options who are worthy of starting matches – but Sunday’s spectacular showing proved that he possesses an X-factor that most of his teammates do not.
The Final Word: A Star in the Making?
The Sky’s the Limit
There will have been Premier League defenders watching that game preparing for some sleepless nights if they face him in that sort of form, and if he can perform at that level for consistent periods, the sky is the limit for him.
Proceed with Caution
Nunez does still have work to do with his all-round game before we go overboard and assume that this is definitely the start of something special, from his tactical nous to his use of the ball, but it is impossible not to get excited after what we’ve just seen.
The Klopp Factor
Having had to bide his time for minutes this season, he has shown Jurgen Klopp exactly what he is capable of, and why he was signed from Benfica for such a big price tag in the first place last summer.