Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has revealed that he has had a “long talk” with Darwin Nunez to assure his big-money summer signing that he has no concerns over his stalled start to life in England.
Nunez moved to Merseyside from Benfica for £64 million, in a deal that could eventually rise to £85m, after scoring 34 goals in 41 games for the Portuguese club last season.
The 23-year-old appeared to hit the ground running when he followed up his four goals in a 5-0 pre-season friendly win over German side RB Leipzig by notching against Manchester City in the Comminity Shield at Wembley and then again away to Fulham in the Reds' opening Premier League match.
But the Uruguayan was sent off in his next game for headbutting Crystal Palace defender Joachim Andersen and, after serving a three-match ban, he has failed to find the target since and found himself starting on the bench despite Liverpool struggling to find top gear this campaign.
In Saturday's 3-3 draw at home to Brighton, Nunez was brought on with just a minute to go but Klopp insists there is no pressure on the striker.
“He is still adapting,” said the German coach ahead of his team's Champions League match against Glasgow Rangers on Tuesday. “New players come in and everybody talks about them and wants them to shine immediately and that happens from time to time.
“We had a long talk yesterday and we told him we are completely calm. It's really important in our situation that he isn't worrying. The three-game suspension didn't help him to settle, that's clear.
“The team isn't flying and that doesn't make it easier for a striker, especially a finisher. It's not that everything is clicking, that is not out situation at the moment.”
It has been a tough start for Liverpool after the exertions of last season's quadruple bid and they currently sit in ninth place, 11 points behind leaders Arsenal, with a game in hand on the Gunners.
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Klopp's side have leaked goals this season and kept only two clean sheets in all competitions and he admits Liverpool have to go “back to the basics” to try at plug the gaps at the back in a team known for its high-pressing style.
“When you spot a problem and think you have the solution, you expect the solution to be instant and influential, that's never the case in football,” he said.
“We've conceded similar goals now, they have gone through the same gaps. The problem we have is a brave way of defending … When the timing in our defending isn't perfect we're too open. So yes, we have to be more compact.
“Defending is an art and it worked for us really well for a long time. But with it not working, you realise you have to go back to the basics … We can't always start anew. If we can help the boys with ways to defend differently, we have to do that.”
Next up is Scottish side Rangers, who reached the Europa League final last season where they were beaten by German side Eintracht Frankfurt in a penalty shoot-out.
And Klopp has been impressed with what he has seen from Giovanni van Bronckhorst's side and their city rivals. “Rangers and Celtic are the standout teams in the Scottish league and Rangers' run in Europe last year was exceptional,” he said.
“Celtic are doing really well as well. They are full of talent. It is a good sign for Scottish football. I followed it [Scottish football] closely when Steven Gerrard was there. I think he enjoyed it and it was a big career move.
“I saw the last game against Hearts … We expect a proper fight and that is what we prepare for.”