EPL

Virgil van Dijk excited about Darwin Nunez potential after recent goal rush

By Sports Desk September 22, 2023

Virgil van Dijk believes striker Darwin Nunez is starting to realise the potential which persuaded Liverpool to spend a possible club-record transfer fee on him.

The Uruguay international endured a testing start to life at Anfield and although he scored 16 goals, the feeling remained he had underperformed.

He has already played a significant part this season, scoring two late goals as a substitute to beat Newcastle, and with Mohamed Salah on the bench he took responsibility for equalising through a penalty in their eventual 3-1 Europa League victory over LASK in Austria.

Nunez has three goals and two assists this season but his all-round influence has been felt more than just from that contribution.

The Uruguayan, who had missed a couple of earlier chances but was denied a certain goal by a brilliant point-blank save by goalkeeper Tobias Lawal in the first half, also played a role in the second goal with his hold-up play on the halfway line.

Liverpool’s captain believes the 24-year-old is developing into the striker they hoped they were getting when they paid Benfica an initial £64million, which could rise to £85m, last summer.

“Everyone has a role to play whether you start or not. Everyone has now seen the potential and the quality he has.

“Against LASK Darwin was important with the goal. Long may it continue, and with the other boys as well.

“Up front, the competition is quite good. They all have to push each other and it’s good to see.”

One of those “other boys” – quite literally – was Ben Doak who became Liverpool’s fourth-youngest European player with his first start at the age of 17 years and 314 days.

The young Scot was given a run in Salah’s right-wing position and showed flashes of his talent despite being starved of opportunities in a poor first-half performance by the team.

“It was a big night for him,” added Van Dijk. “It was never going to be easy, it was a difficult pitch, but he could have set up at least two goals in the first half where he went past his man like no one was there but unfortunately nobody was on the end of it.

“I am pleased for him and I’m also very excited for him and the future that’s coming.

“You’ve seen in the last couple of weeks, if you watch closely it’s a fantastic group to be part of.

“We have a lot of quality, a lot of younger players, players who are getting new roles and they are enjoying that as well.

“But at the end of the day football is about results. Everybody wants to play their best football each and every game, but sometimes you have to find a way, like we did at Wolves (coming back from conceding first again to win 3-1).

“On Thursday it was after we conceded a set-piece, we showed that we stayed calm and found a way as well.”

Related items

  • Superb Cole Palmer scores four as Chelsea hit Everton for six Superb Cole Palmer scores four as Chelsea hit Everton for six

    Cole Palmer became the Premier League’s joint-leading scorer this season as his four goals helped Chelsea crush hapless Everton 6-0 at Stamford Bridge.

    The former Manchester City player now has 20 for the campaign and dismantled Sean Dyche’s side almost single-handedly, netting a hat-trick inside the first 29 minutes to breathe genuine momentum into his team’s bid to qualify for Europe.

    This was as complete a first half as Chelsea have managed under Mauricio Pochettino, displaying a clinical edge in front of goal that made the insipid attacking displays of earlier in the season feel like a distant memory.

    It was also a night for individuals. Moises Caicedo at the base of midfield gave a performance full of guile and maturity; rarely had he looked so in command in Chelsea colours.

    Nicolas Jackson, who scored the fourth goal, and Mykhailo Mudryk were superb, further turning the tide of opinion in their favour after slow starts to their careers in blue.

    Then there was Palmer, Chelsea’s talisman, who is surely now a contender to challenge his former Manchester City team-mate Erling Haaland for the Golden Boot.

    This was not a perfect 90 minutes and there are still issues for Pochettino to address. When his team were given a penalty at 4-0 up in the second half, there was the unsavoury spectacle of a physical altercation as Jackson and Noni Madueke each tried to take the ball from the appointed taker Palmer. It pointed to a failure of discipline and leadership that the manager must surely address.

    But it could not sour a fine night for home fans in west London, capped off fittingly when academy graduate Alfie Gilchrist fired in his first goal for the club in stoppage time.

    Chelsea had started the game sluggishly, narrowly avoiding going behind after nine minutes when Beto missed the target from four yards.

    As so often this season it required intervention from Palmer to shake them to life. Receiving the ball deep from Malo Gusto, he impudently nutmegged Jarrad Branthwaite, played a one-two with Jackson, then curled his finish wide of the dive of Jordan Pickford for his first goal of a remarkable first half.

    Soon the floodgates were open. After 17 minutes, Mudryk was played in down the left by Jackson who, receiving it back from the Ukrainian, shot first time. Pickford beat the ball out, but only to the feet of the arriving Palmer who grabbed his second.

    His finish for 3-0 was exquisite, but the opportunity came gift-wrapped from Pickford. The England goalkeeper tried to pick out Amadou Onana but came up short with his pass. In nipped Palmer and, undaunted by the 45-yard distance to goal, lobbed it into the net for his hat-trick.

    Jackson made it four before the break, showing exquisite touch to drag Marc Cucurella’s cross out of the air before turning and guiding the ball beyond the goalkeeper’s grasp into the corner.

    The 22-year-old has shown significant improvement in recent weeks, and his 13th goal of the season was surely his best so far for Chelsea.

    Palmer argued away Jackson and Madueke to make it five from the penalty spot just past the hour mark, then Gilchrist drilled into the bottom corner from Pickford’s parry at the death, as Chelsea moved to within three points of the top six.

  • Alejandro Garnacho spoken to by Erik ten Hag over social media activity Alejandro Garnacho spoken to by Erik ten Hag over social media activity

    Manchester United’s Alejandro Garnacho has been spoken to by Erik ten Hag after the winger liked social media posts criticising the manager’s handling of the player.

    The Argentinian, taken off at half-time of their 2-2 draw at Bournemouth, liked two messages on X, formerly Twitter, by YouTuber Mark Goldbridge.

    One read: “Ten Hag subtly blaming Garnacho in the post match press conference… not a good look throwing a 19 year old under the bus who has actually delivered for you this season. But then again he’s clearly scared of upsetting the bigger earners.”

    The other said Garnacho “had a poor first half but taking him off at half time and holding him up as the problem is a joke”.

    Garnacho swiftly ‘unliked’ both messages – an action the club believes shows contrition – and a United source told the PA news agency the matter had been dealt with internally.

    In September Jadon Sancho’s post on X, saying he had been made a “scapegoat” and “I will not allow people saying things that (are) completely untrue” – interpreted as accusing Ten Hag of misrepresenting reasons why the winger was not in the side – led to the 24-year-old being banished from the first team before being loaned to Borussia Dortmund in January.

  • Fast-rising Reggae Boy, Kaheim Dixon, to consider future move after Jamaica Premier League season concludes Fast-rising Reggae Boy, Kaheim Dixon, to consider future move after Jamaica Premier League season concludes

    Kaheim Dixon, the talented young footballer currently representing Arnett Gardens in the Jamaica Premier League, is preparing to make a crucial decision about his future once the season concludes. Dixon, who has garnered interest from several European clubs and who has a preference for playing in Belgium, is weighing his options as he looks to further his career on the international stage.

    An exciting prospect while playing for DaCosta Cup champions, Clarendon College, Dixon's impressive performances on the field have caught the attention of scouts and club representatives, sparking discussions about potential opportunities abroad. With a strong desire to continue his development in a competitive environment, Dixon sees Europe as an ideal destination to advance his skills with Belgium being his preferred destination.

    "I'm focused on finishing the Jamaica Premier League season with Arnett Gardens before considering my next move," Dixon told Sportsmax.TV.

    Dixon's decision-making process will involve consultations with his club officials and discussions with his family to determine the best path forward for his career but explains his preference for where he would like to end up.

    "Playing in Belgium appeals to me because of their commitment to developing young players."

    Dixon made his senior debut for Jamaica’s Reggae Boys during the semi-finals of the CONCACAF Nations League against regional powerhouse, the United States and acquitted himself fairly well. His performance also convinced him that he is ready to play professional football.

    Reflecting on his CONCACAF Nations League campaign, Dixon shared insights from his experience. "I learned a lot. You have to be disciplined on and off the field," Dixon remarked. "In the game, you have to adjust quickly; only dribble in the attacking third."

    In response to the interest from European clubs, Dixon acknowledged the opportunity but stressed the need for continuous improvement. For now, though, he remains focused on winning the Jamaica Premier League title for Arnett Gardens.

    "It's a good thing that clubs are interested, but I've still got to improve on my season as well," he said.

     

     

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.