With new reports emerging on Monday that Luis Diaz will now be sidelined until around March, Darwin Nunez may now have to get used to a role he may not have envisioned when he joined the club last summer.
According to James Pierce of The Athletic, Diaz is expected to be out for about three more months after surgery to repair damage to his lateral collateral ligament.
The procedure is believed to have taken place over the weekend, with Jurgen Klopp calling Diaz’s failure a “real punch in the face.”
Pearce also adds that Diogo Hota, Liverpool’s other main left-wing attacking option, will still not be available until “the end of January or possibly February” as he continues to recover from a serious hamstring problem.
So how is Klopp going to fill the void to the left of Liverpool’s top three? In the break before the World Cup, Darwin Nunes was the answer, but is he really suitable for this role in the long run?
Why the absence of Diaz and Hota affects the role of Nunes
When Diaz and Hota were injured for the first time in October, Klopp came up with several ways to set up the team without them.
Firstly, there was a switch to what Klopp and the players called 4-4-2. A diamond-shaped pattern followed, and the boss felt that the best way to use the three remaining available forwards would be Roberto Firmino right behind Mohamed Salah and Nunez in narrower positions.
However, Liverpool appeared to have turned the corner in November’s 2-0 home win over Napoli when Klopp opted to return to his usual 4-3-3 system. Nunez did not start that game, but an impressive appearance from the bench on the left flank position led to a start in this role in the next game away to Tottenham.
The Uruguayan showed another good game there before starting from the same position and scoring twice in Liverpool’s 3-1 win over Southampton, which was arguably his best game for the club.
When Nunes joined the club for what is expected to be a club record transfer sum in the summer, many assumed he would be mainly used in the center of Liverpool’s attack, with Salah and Diaz on either side.
But the injury problems of the Reds forced a rethink of the situation, and since Nunes proved last season that he was capable of playing on the left for Benfica, it is not surprising that Klopp eventually decided to use him in a similar role.
This may not be seen as his best position in the long run, but since both Diaz and Hota are still missing, Nunez may still be the most suitable option for this side.
Good omens before the World Cup break
That game against Southampton was the clearest sign that after a difficult start to his career at Liverpool, Nunez really found himself.
Some felt that the break for the World Cup came at a bad time for Liverpool, given their rise in form at the beginning of November.
It was assumed that one of the main advantages of the break would be the thought that due to Diaz’s injury he would miss only a few matches, but his latest setback canceled such an assumption.
Nunes has struggled to make an impact for Uruguay at the World Cup, but he hopes to pick up where he left off in his club form before the tournament.
In the match against Southampton, he excelled in the role of the left flank, which was vacated by Diaz, and the middle positions in the game show how he and Salah were able to run behind the Southampton back line, and Firmino went deep.
Average positions against Southampton
He may not feel as much joy in this role against other, tougher opponents who are more compact in defense, but the two goals he scored and his overall game were a great source of inspiration.
Nunes is due to join the Liverpool squad in Dubai earlier this week and when Liverpool travel to Manchester City for their first competitive match since the World Cup on December 22, don’t be surprised if he’s on Liverpool’s left. the front three again.
Without Diaz and Hota, Liverpool is a short option for the left flank, but there are several other solutions besides Nunez.
One of the main ones is Fabio Carvalho, who scored and performed well when he was selected in the starting line-up against Lyon on Sunday.
Having played most of his football for Fulham in the No. 10 role, Carvalho’s profile is different from Nunez’s: the Uruguayan is a more direct striker who acts more instinctively in front of goal. However, there is no doubt that Carvalho is certainly a candidate for this position.
Curtis Jones is another, although the 21-year-old is currently recovering from injury.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is back in full form and was one of the Reds’ most promising players in the second half against Lyon.
If he has any hopes of getting a new contract, he will be looking to impress in the second half of the season, and last season proved that he is capable of doing the job in one of the wider attacking positions.
However, Nunes certainly looks the most suitable option at the moment, and while the Reds may consider advancing any plans to sign a new striker in the January transfer window, the ex-Benfica striker now has a great opportunity to become one of the first names on Klopp’s team sheet.