EPL

Nunez is more flexible than Haaland, says former Almeria coach

By Sports Desk June 15, 2022

Darwin Nunez is "more flexible" than Erling Haaland and an ideal fit for Liverpool, according to one of his former coaches.

Nunez joined Liverpool from Benfica on Tuesday, with the Lisbon club confirming the fee to be £64million (€75m), and a further £21.4m (€25m) in potential add-ons.

The Uruguayan striker netted 34 times in 41 games in all competitions for Benfica last season.

Meanwhile, Manchester City - who pipped Liverpool by one point in a compelling Premier League title race last month - clinched the signing of Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund after triggering his release clause of a reported £51.2m (€60m).

Haaland scored a monstrous 86 goals in 89 games for Dortmund during two-and-a-half seasons in the Bundesliga, and talk has already begun about whether he or Nunez will do better in English football.

Former Almeria assistant manager David Badia worked with Nunez during the 2019-20 season in the Spanish second tier, with the forward netting 16 goals in 32 league games before a €24m move to Benfica.

In an exclusive interview with Stats Perform, Badia said he believes Nunez is a different type of player to Haaland, and backed him to settle quickly into Liverpool's system.

"I don't want to say they are similar because I think Darwin could be maybe a little bit more flexible," he said. "He's a player that can change the direction a little bit faster than Haaland.

"Maybe Haaland is a little bit more powerful and when he starts [running] he breaks everything in front of him, but I think that [Nunez] can change direction a bit faster and, for the style that Liverpool has, I think he is more of a fit."

Badia, who has been managing in Cyprus since leaving Almeria in January 2021, believes Nunez could be in the conversation for the Ballon d'Or during his time at Anfield.

"I think that nobody spoke about Darwin," he said regarding whether he can challenge Haaland and Kylian Mbappe in future for the prestigious award. 

"I mean, maybe in the publicity, he has not [got] the brand that the other two have.

"It's going to be a very clever move from Liverpool, because it's looked like everybody was looking [at] Haaland... nobody was saying nothing about Darwin.

"But I know him, I follow him, and I knew that the [club] who is going to take him is going to [get a] cheaper [deal]."

Badia also outlined his first impressions of Nunez when he joined Almeria from Penarol in 2019, when he worked as an assistant to then-head coach and former Real Madrid midfielder, Guti.

"In a few training sessions that we took... we could see that [Nunez] had something special. We saw that the Almeria was [too] small for him," Badia added.

"Everything that he was doing was on another level. The speed of execution was completely [different] compared to the rest of the players of the league, not only in the team of the league of the second division in Spain.

"He was a really important player for the team, also his team-mates knew that he was going to leave earlier, that he was not going to stay longer because everybody was watching him in the stands.

"We knew that this team is coming, the other team is coming, and then in the end we knew that in a short period he was going to leave and he was going to go on his way."

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