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Liverpool Echo
Liverpool Echo
Richard Garnett

Jurgen Klopp needs to find answer to Darwin Nunez issue to avoid 'disaster' repeat with Liverpool

Jurgen Klopp finds himself in a similar position at Liverpool to his time at Borussia Dortmund, with Darwin Nunez's signing mirroring his attempts to find a replacement for Robert Lewandowski.

That's the view of German football commentator Dr Constantin Eckner, who believes that the Anfield boss has reverted to a previously practised method when he sought out a successor for Sadio Mane in the summer.

The German has won six major honours in his seven-year stint at Anfield but is facing his most difficult season yet as an injury-hit campaign has resulted in an alarming drop-off in performance levels that has left the Reds tenth in the Premier League table. Sport1 and DAZN broadcaster Dr. Eckner admitted that Liverpool's slump was unexpected in Germany but drew parallels with his time as a coach back in his homeland, particularly when Klopp was managing Dortmund.

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Speaking live on BBC Radio Merseyside on Tuesday morning, Dr Eckner said: “Some people are surprised because Liverpool seemed like this indestructible team the last couple of years, always getting deep down in the Champions League and always being competitive in the Premier League. But on the other hand, seven years is a long time and coaches don’t survive that long.

"Mainz was completely different. It was a second tier club. He brought them up to the Bundesliga and then they got relegated again and he quit the job and took on his next endeavour. With Dortmund he won two championships and also got to the Champions League final in 2013. The season after that was a bit of a slog. In 2014/15 there was a completely disastrous campaign. They were bottom of the league all the way through the season. They recovered but still it was a disaster and Klopp quit after the season.

“If you look back at that season, you see some similarities to this season. His thin-skinness, that he lashed out at a journalist who criticised him in some way, I think. It reminds me of that time. And also, some of the mistakes he made back then, he might repeat them right now. Sticking to some of the players right now that may have made a mark in the past but aren’t really up to point anymore.

“The signing of Darwin Nunez is also an interesting one. People might remember, in 2014 Robert Lewondowski left Dortmund and moved to Bayern Munich and Klopp’s signing at the time was Ciro Immobile, a very physical but technically limited striker. Sometimes when I watch Darwin Nunez, who is probably much more expensive and probably much more gifted than Immobile, it reminds me a little of that. Klopp sometimes does these things and goes back to the ‘fighting spirit’ striker."

Liverpool have received criticism from some quarters for not making more additions to their squad when they were in a position of strength. In particular, a failure to improve the midfield area has come under scrutiny this season as the Reds struggle to contain opponents who are seemingly intent on over-running them.

In his interview with Paul Salt, Eckner points to some previous examples of Klopp's loyalty to trusted players at Dortmund, but has warned against the risk of putting all their eggs in one basket with the widely-reported pursuit of Jude Bellingham this summer.

Eckner said: “If you talk to football players, if someone is signed and he (Klopp) doesn’t like the guy from the beginning, because he doesn’t like the mentality he has or the flaws he has, then he can be very ruthless with players. He can say ‘that player is not good enough for me, he has to go or go to the reserve team’.

“He can be very ruthless, but he can also stick to and be very loyal to players who has success with him in the past. There were a couple of Dortmund players like Marcel Schmelzer and Kevin Großkreutz who were nowhere near like the highest level of quality, but they were successful in the first couple of years and he just stuck to them. He put them on in the starting XI again and again even though they weren’t maybe up to point anymore and couldn’t really meet the quality standards at the time. He does that a little bit at Liverpool right now.

"He missed the mark revamping the squad last summer and also, without going too deep into the discussion about Liverpool, I think maybe Liverpool right now is counting too much on Jude Bellingham signing, because it’s not a forgone conclusion that Jude Bellingham will go to Liverpool. Maybe there’s a bit of a gamble there, because if he is not coming they could be standing there empty-handed.”


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