3 strikers Liverpool could target to replace Darwin Nunez

A big summer of change is ahead at Liverpool, with the eight-and-a-half year tenure of Jurgen Klopp coming to an end.

The German is bidding farewell to Merseyside in order to step away from the pressures of elite-level management, and is expected to be replaced by Feyenoord boss Arne Slot, for whom a deal has already been agreed.

Nothing has been made official at the time of writing, but it’s almost guaranteed that Slot will be following in the footsteps of his beleaguered fellow Dutchman Erik ten Hag, who is swimming with the sharks at Manchester United after a very up and down two-season spell.

While there’s near certainty on the managerial front, the same can’t be said for some key personnel at Liverpool.

Speculation is rife over the long-term futures of Virgil van Dijk and Saudi Pro League target Mohamed Salah, both of whom are out of contract at Anfield next year, but one other name that’s crept into the transfer headlines of late is Darwin Nunez.

A club-record £85m purchase (total package, bonuses included) from Benfica in June 2022, Nunez was expected to achieve big things on Merseyside. He’d scored 34 goals in his final season in Portugal and seemingly had all the attributes to hit the ground running in the Premier League.

here’s been patches of brilliance from Nunez in the two years that have followed and great use of his pace, athleticism and chaotic unpredictability.

But more often than not he’s failed to deliver in the big moments, missing clear-cut chances in front of goal time and time again – the sort of chances you have to take if you want to win Premier League titles and trophies on the continent.

Nunez’s varied performance level has meant his place as a starter has not always been guaranteed, and his opportunities may have been limited further had Diogo Jota not continued to be cursed by injury.

Barcelona have been suggested a shock exit route, as they prepare for life after Robert Lewandowski, and the 24-year-old’s decision to remove all Liverpool related content from his Instagram account has only added further fuel to the rumour fire.

The question is, were Nunez to charge out of the Anfield door, who on earth could replace him?

Viktor Gyokeres:

  • Current club: Sporting CP
  • Likely fee: £86m
  • 2023/24 appearances: 47
  • 2023/24 goals: 41

Liverpool’s main strength in recent years had been the number of goals contributed from wide forward areas. Mohamed Salah was the lead talisman, scoring a ridiculous amount from the right side, and he was ably supported by Sadio Mane for a good chunk of time.

But although Salah continues to notch at a rapid rate, Mane’s goals haven’t really been replaced since he departed the club for a new challenge. Jota, Luis Diaz and Cody Gakpo have done their best to fill the void, but their contributions are more akin to what Roberto Firmino was churning out in the central striker role.

That’s why signing a prolific striker like Gyokeres may actually be the best thing Liverpool can do, even if it’ll cost an arm and a leg to do it. The Swede has had an unbelievable season with Sporting CP, carries the same physically imposing threat that Nunez does, and is far more composed with the ball at his feet, in terms of taking chances as well as setting up others.

More importantly, he’s a straight up number nine, which would surely provide more clarity for the roles of Jota and Gakpo, who seemingly plug in wherever they’re needed and sometimes go through the middle if Nunez is shunted out to the left.

Alexander Isak:

  • Current club: Newcastle United
  • Likely fee: At least £80m
  • 2023/24 appearances: 37
  • 2023/24 goals: 24

With central strikers the decided theme, it’s pretty obvious that Liverpool should consider signing one who is 100% proven in the Premier League. Enter, Newcastle’s Alexander Isak.

The Swede has had injury problems, granted, but his record at St James’ Park is exceptional. Not only are Isak’s numbers good, his link-up play is great and he’s capable of playing alone up front or alongside a strike partner, should the situation dictate it.

Balance is so important to a side, as well as work rate, and there’s few better than Isak if Liverpool need to change tact or just simply plunder the ball into the back of the net.

Santiago Gimenez:
  • Current club: Feyenoord
  • Likely fee: At least £45m
  • 2023/24 appearances: 41
  • 2023/24 goals: 26

Gyokeres and Isak would both come at a premium price, no doubt about that. So that’s where Feyenoord striker and Arne Slot-disciple Santiago Gimenez could come into the equation.

Having only just turned 23, the Argentina-born Mexican is the youngest of the trio here and has similar traits to Nunez. A keen presser out of possession, Gimenez will willingly run into the channels and lead counter attacks – where he invariably makes the kind of decisions that Nunez has got wrong a little too often.

Gimenez’s finishing has also improved immeasurably over the past couple of years, suggesting he works extremely well with Slot and his coaching staff on the training ground. A safe option? Maybe. A good enough option to allow money to still be spent elsewhere? Absolutely.

What we know

  • Darwin Nunez is being linked with a Liverpool exit this summer
  • Reds had invested in £85m package to sign inconsistent striker
  • 90min assesses three players who could replace him at Anfield.


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