Jurgen Klopp hopes people will ‘keep calm’ over Darwin Nunes’ controversial start at Liverpool and has pointed to former player Robert Lewandowski as a reason to remain confident.
Nunes joined Liverpool in June for a fee that could eventually reach a club-record £85m, but the Uruguayan international has endured an inconsistent start to his career at the Reds.
On Monday, Liverpool picked up a third straight league win over Aston Villa, although Nunez didn’t convert any of his four big chances despite scoring 1.15 xG (expected goals).
The striker was criticized after the game for finishing it, but Klopp urged people to stay behind the 23-year-old and cited Lewandowski’s poor start at Borussia Dortmund as an example of how players can improve.
Switching to Klopp’s Dortmund team from Lech Poznań ahead of the 2010-11 campaign, Lewandowski scored just eight times in 38 Bundesliga appearances.
However, he scored 102 goals in 184 games under Klopp, helping them win two Bundesliga titles and the 2012-13 Champions League final before leaving for Bayern Munich in 2014.
Klopp believes Liverpool fans should keep their faith in Nunes in the hope that he will prosper like Lewandowski did.
“If you could just go back to that time [I was] sitting at press conferences and journalists when I started playing Lewandowski, they asked me: “Why [Lucas] Barrios is not playing?” Klopp told reporters.
“Lucas Barrios scored 16 goals that season and was number 9 on our team so Levy started playing in different positions to adapt to different things and he didn’t like it too much.
“Polish journalists weren’t too friendly with me because he didn’t play nine, he played 4-2-3-1 in 10, I then thought that it makes sense to develop his game… a lot in common [with Nunez] to be honest.
“Lewiy told the same story, we had a shoot and he couldn’t finish any of them.
“We had €10 bets all the time, if you score more than 10 times I will pay you, if you don’t pay me, my pocket was full of money.
“It’s all about staying calm, when you see potential, stay calm. It’s so hard in the world we live in.
“I think we all agree that the potential [of Nunez] so obvious.
“I had this not only with Levi, but also with him an obvious comparison, I understand that. It’s all about staying calm and I’m very calm and by the way the team is too.”
Although Klopp admitted that Nunes should have played better with one chance, especially against Villa, he also believes that the media attention was excessive.
“Everything is fine? No, he said. “I think it’s clear with a big chance in the second half, if he can run a little at an angle then he has free choice.
“But everything is ahead. So you do it like this, next time you do it like this.
“It’s so difficult in the world we live in. I don’t want to get personal right now, but because of you [the media] asking and making a fuss about everything, then, of course, supporters and social networks [get carried away].
“All those things, the more you can turn them off, the better.”