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Liverpool: Darwin Nunez is a doubt for pivotal Brighton clash

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has been dealt a potentially detrimental blow to his preparations ahead of the forthcoming Premier League fixture away to Brighton & Hove Albion

What’s the word?

According to The Telegraph, the Reds’ £85m summer signing Darwin Nunez is a fitness doubt for Saturday’s trip to the Amex Stadium, compounding the extensive list of absentees and the struggle to find consistent form. 

The Uruguayan striker has divided opinion since his arrival on Merseyside, but he has been a regular presence in the Reds’ line-up so far, starring on occasion and second only to the sublime Mohamed Salah in the club’s 2022/23 scoring charts.

As relayed by Liverpool’s official website, Klopp seemingly confirmed during his pre-match press conference on Friday morning that the 23-year-old is out of contention for the Brighton clash.

The manager said of Nunez: “If he cannot train today then, yes, that would rule him out. We are waiting for the latest information; it is not a major one, but it still kept him out of training. We have to wait for that.”

A big blow for Liverpool

The 23-year-old has indeed been met with contrasting reviews since his move from Benfica in the summer. Many of the Liverpool fanbase are roaring in adulation for the budding brilliance of this enigmatic striker, while rival supporters heap criticism on the catalogue of missed opportunities stemming from his often erratic and wayward shooting.

The overarching, more equitable consensus would appear to be that Liverpool yield an unrefined and imperfect but overwhelmingly entertaining prospect who seems capable of reaching heights beyond the majority of Premier League strikers. Indeed, it was only this week that his overall game came in for high praise from the division’s all-time leading scorer Alan Shearer.

Having scored ten goals and supplied three assists from just 15 starts for the Reds, the pathway to a place among the pantheon of Europe’s most devastating offensive players is but a distance away, and his influence on the Premier League should only expand as Liverpool’s fortunes ostensibly turn brighter.

Will Liverpool beat Brighton this weekend?

Definitely!

Definitely!

No way!

No way!

His absence will indeed be felt on the south coast, with Brighton continuing to dazzle among the division’s elite despite Graham Potter departing from the Amex Stadium to assume the managerial role at Chelsea in the season’s opening weeks.

The Seagulls are just one point and one place behind the Reds in the table, having clinched 27 points from the first 17 outings, and a home victory would sink Liverpool into deeper woes and consign them to consecutive defeats in the Premier League at the start of 2023.

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With Diogo Jota and Luis Diaz both ruled out of contention for the impending period, and Roberto Firmino yet to receive the green light to return following his own spell on the sidelines, Klopp is left to pick at scraps for his frontline, although he is bolstered by the recent £35m signing of Cody Gakpo from PSV Eindhoven.

The £140k-per-week phenomenon also ranks within the top 5% of forwards across Europe’s major leagues for rate of goals, top 1% for total shots, top 2% for touches in the attacking penalty box and top 6% for progressive passes received over the past year (as per FBref), illustrating his importance to the team.

Praised as “dangerous” by his manager, the 16-cap Uruguayan’s likely confinement to the injury room is a big blow this weekend, and Liverpool will need to unearth a level of intensity and cutting edge which has largely evaded them this season if they are to earn a crucial victory over Saturday’s opposition.

Klopp would no doubt have been wincing with frustration at the news of Nunez’s injury blow, compounding what has already been a hugely testing campaign for the Reds.