Sometimes in life, you just know, you know? That was the case for Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp when he got the opportunity to see Uruguayan international Darwin Núñez play live in Liverpool’s two Champions League matches against Benfica.
“It was clear that he was really good. But when you see it then live, it was really impressive,” Klopp said.
“The power and the mix-up with technique, the desire, smart moves, the problems he caused us. We fell all in love in these two games. A very aggressive South American, it’s a good thing!”
Núñez is the Reds’ marquee signing this summer. Along with selling Sadio Mané and completing a new contract with Mohamed Salah, Núñez’s arrival is the big news around Merseyside and also the biggest indication of Klopp’s vision for the team moving forward.
If Núñez is in the plan right now, then Liverpool’s other two additions, Fabio Carvalho and Calvin Ramsay, are looking towards the future. Klopp saw the quality and potential in their performances and believes that he can mold them into the kind of player he wants.
“Because if you have quality and you are 32 I’m very interested, to be honest,” Klopp said. “But quality and being 18 or 19, playing already an awful lot of games, having a real impact in their team performance for their former clubs, it’s rare. And both had that.”
Speaking on Carvalho, Klopp was most enthusiastic about his flexibility and ability to play in multiple positions.
“When we watched him it was a pure joy to watch him, absolutely. He can play so many different positions for us, the way we play. At the minute he’s not really set on one position – it’s the wing, it’s the eight, it’s the 10, it’s the false nine if he grows a few more muscles.
“It’s a short-term and a long-term project; he can start tomorrow and he needs to adapt, you can see that a little bit, but when he has the ball that’s proper quality. I’m over the moon that he’s here. Fantastic prospect.”
And finally, Calvin Ramsay came to Liverpool from Aberdeen. An 18-year-old right-back, Klopp claims he has what it takes to fulfill that incredibly demanding position.
“And what a player he is, what he did for Aberdeen last year, absolutely exceptional. n his age group and you know the things we need from a full-back, he is as close as it gets to the things we want and is still a kid. So we really expect a lot from him in the long term,” Klopp said.
It’s possible that, of all the players on the team, it’s Trent Alexander-Arnold’s shoes that are the most difficult to fill. Alexander-Arnold got his opportunity with the first team in 2016 when previous first choice right-back Nathaniel Clyne fell injured. He grabbed the chance with two hands and never looked back. Now he works with partner Andy Robertson to hold the defense but also facilitate the attack, sprinting back and forth along the wing, pinging in crosses and throwing himself into tackles. His free kicks are a cornerstone of Liverpool’s strategy. Plus, aside from all that, he’s a Scouser.
Ramsay will have a lot to do moving forward in order to prepare himself for filling in for Alexander-Arnold, but Klopp believing that he has the skills to do what it takes is a huge compliment to the player.
The Reds travel to Thailand and Singapore to start their preseason, and all three new players will be there to start the process of integrating into the team.