Former Premier League striker Gabby Agbonlahor has criticised Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp for leaving Darwin Nunez out of the starting XI against Fulham.
The lowdown: Fast start
Signed from Benfica for a club-record £85million (Sky Sports), Nunez arrived on Merseyside with huge expectations, particularly after superstar forward Sadio Mane left for Bayern Munich.
However, the 23-year-old Uruguay international has been allowed time to settle by Klopp, being left amongst the substitutes for the Community Shield and the opening Premier League encounter.
The latest: ‘That was a mistake’
Speaking to Football Insider, ex-Aston Villa frontman and regular talkSPORT contributor Agbonlahor lamented Klopp for leaving the 11-cap ace out of the side, saying it’s already cost them ground in the title race.
He said: “Sometimes when you play the team that’s just come up they have that buzz. You look at Bournemouth beating Villa. Fulham were up for the game, they didn’t sit back and attacked Liverpool.
“Liverpool looked like they were in a bit of shock in the first half. It was like ‘How dare you attack us, we’re Liverpool’. The only thing I would read into it is Firmino can’t be starting games. If they started Nunez they win that game, for me.
“You can’t be making those mistakes as a manager. I don’t want to hear about fitness and Nunez not being fit. If he’s not fit, you start him then bring him off. You don’t leave your top signing of the summer on the bench.
“For me, that was a mistake that already puts them two points behind Man City. It’s a mistake you can’t be doing, to be honest. Nunez has to start. When he came on, he was the scariest player on the pitch. He caused the defence havoc like he did in the Community Shield. It really doesn’t make sense why they didn’t start him.”
The verdict: Nothing new
Klopp giving new arrivals space to bed themselves into the Reds should come as no surprise as the German has previously taken time to integrate the likes of Andy Robertson, Fabinho and Takumi Minamino.
That said, with two goals in two fleeting appearances, Nunez – who was hailed as a ‘sensational talent’ by Fox Sports journalist James Dodd – may have already made himself impossible to ignore ahead of the clash at Anfield with Crystal Palace on Monday night.
Offering a direct running style and 6 foot 2 stature that cannot be matched by Roberto Firmino, the Uruguayan centre-forward offers a whole new threat to the Liverpool attack that could see Klopp’s charges find alternative ways of breaking down sides, something that deserted them for large parts of the Fulham draw.
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