'Intuitive' Darwin Nunez prospering after adaptation period
 Darwin Nunez of Liverpool celebrates after scoring the team's second goal during the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and West Ham United at Anfield on September 24, 2023 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Matt McNulty/Getty Images)

Liverpool assistant manager Pep Lijnders sees Darwin Nunez as a more polished diamond after fully adapting to life in England, labelling him as an 'intuitive' striker who 'smells goals'.

Nunez, who suffered a turbulent debut campaign at Anfield, has scored four goals and assisted two in seven games this season, with his all-round game going up a level as well.

The Uruguayan is averaging a goal contribution every 52 minutes this season.

The striker, 24, is also averaging a goal every 141 minutes over the course of his Liverpool career. To contextualise, Mohamed Salah is scoring every 134 minutes, while Luis Suarez averaged a goal every 138 minutes.

"Compliments to Darwin, the fans love him," said Lijnders speaking ahead of Liverpool's Carabao Cup third-round clash with Leicester. "He has this mentality to run and fight and arrive in positions no one thinks he can. It's Important he stepped up offensive and defensively, nice to see him starting games.

"Starting games back-to-back, you see what that does to a player. A pure intuition player. He smells goals.

"Away at Newcastle, it would change any players' life. How he made two goals from nothing. It has given him confidence. He needs that. He speaks better English, he invests a lot in himself. A player with confidence or without is a different player."

Nunez has directly contributed to six goals in seven games this season(Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)
Nunez has directly contributed to six goals in seven games this season(Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

Ben Doak could be poised for a start against Leicester after making his first senior start against LASK in the Europa League last Thursday.

The Scottish winger, 17, has caught the eye of Jurgen Klopp and he was rewarded for his rapid ascent with a new contract last week.

Asked about Doak, Lijnders compared his skillset to some of Holland's greatest wingers: "He's young, a lot of things can happen but I had the privilege of growing up in Holland we had the tactical culture of Cruyff; this idea of wingers on the outside can disorganise opposition. To have the speed. Overmars, Robben, this type of player.

"So we have this culture of wingers, and then if you get a young winger from Scotland at only 17 years old and has this capacity to create and reach the final line with individual skill, individual movement, it's nice to see.

"The good thing with Ben is, in my opinion, he comes into a squad with so much senior authority, he won't make a side step, the boys already tell him, like Robertson [shouts] 'decision!'. He has a low centre of gravity and that is how he can control the ball better. He can control the ball at the highest speed with his left and right foot. He is an interesting player, needs to mature and listen to Robbo, Mo Salah, Jota, Cody, Luis, all these guys.

"We as a club for young players, I think it's really nice for them to be in our squad. At the same level, I think it's really good for the older players to have younger players with this hunger. They can mentor. Each top team has this right balance."

Salah continues to make history, equalling Thierry Henry's record for most goals for an English club in European competitions with his goal against LASK - achieving this feat in 20 fewer games. He is also the first player to score or assist in 12 consecutive league games twice.

Lijnders said Liverpool should 'cherish' Salah, seeing him as a leader without the armband.

He said: "I spoke yesterday with Mo and he is breaking record after record, a very very special player on our hands. He is a mentor, a leader.

"I see him in the gym. I see him coming in early. I see a real professional with experience. He can lead without being captain. It's special that he's with us. It's special how he is doing it.

"We should cherish this player. He is a guy who out of nothing can create a lot and he does this time and time again"

Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)
Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)