Soccer

Liverpool star Darwin Nunez given daunting target in Sadio Mane absence – Rush EXCLUSIVE

Klopp impressed by Nunez's rapid progress at Liverpool

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Ian Rush believes Darwin Nunez should be targeting around 20 goals this season as he bids to fire Liverpool to the Premier League title. The Uruguayan star has already opened his account after his £80million move from Benfica in June with a goal in the Community Shield against Manchester City.

The 23-year-old arrives with a stellar record in front of goal, having bagged 34 goals in the Primeira Liga for Benfica last season. It would be unrealistic to expect a similar tally from Nunez this season, however, due to the gulf in quality between the Premier League and Portuguese top flight.

But club legend Rush, who leads the club’s all-time scoring charts with 346 goals, is still backing the striker to get firing. And the 60-year-old thinks that he has the quality to aim for 20 goals as he aims to help Liverpool secure their second Premier League title under Jurgen Klopp.

Asked how many goals Nunez would score, Rush exclusively told Express Sport: “It’s difficult to say because [Mohamed] Salah will be taking all of the penalties and you wonder if Nunez is even going to start every game, or whether Jurgen Klopp will use him from the bench.

“But I think if you’re a striker who’s going to be playing regularly, you’re looking at 20 goals a season. 15-20 would be a fair target considering he’s stepping up from Portugal and that is a difficult step to make.”

Klopp had already signed a direct long-term replacement for Sadio Mane in January with the capture of Luis Diaz from Porto. But Nunez will be expected to replace the goals that the Senegalese scored after he left for Bayern Munich this summer.

But Rush, who hailed Nunez as a “great signing”, does not envisage that being a problem for the ex-Almeria target man after watching him impress from the bench against Man City last week at the King Power Stadium — and thinks he could even be an upgrade on Mane.

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“I was a bit sorry when Mane left, because he was a great player for Liverpool,” Rush said. “But to sign Nunez has more than compensated for Mane.

“It’s a new start in the Premier League, and from what I’ve seen of him in pre-season tour and the Community Shield, he’s going to get bigger and stronger.

“He’s scoring goals and I think the main thing is how Jurgen Klopp uses him, whether he’s starting straight from the start or try to ease him in a little bit.”

Rush expects another close battle in the title race between Liverpool and City, but surprisingly listed his club as the team who will be under the most pressure to perform after nearly clinching an unprecedented quadruple last season.

“It’s going to be difficult for Liverpool because there’s expectations on them now, they nearly won the quadruple and had an excellent season last year,” he added. “They were 10 minutes from winning the Premier League and faced a fantastic goalkeeper against Real Madrid in the Champions League final that won the game.

“With two trophies, there’s that expectation and pressure on Liverpool to do well. And I think they’ve got that squad to do it. These players know what to expect and they’re getting better, they’ve got a great squad. The demands are going to be so high this year, hopefully they can deliver.”

Head-to-head virtual trading platform, SportsBroker, surveyed Liverpool fans to find out their sides’ ‘Most Memorable Premier League Opening Day Moment.’*

Steven Gerrard was responsible for countless unforgettable moments during his LFC career, and one that seems to have stuck in the memory of fans was his last minute freekick on the opening day of the 2007/08 season against the club he now manages, Aston Villa.

Gerrard’s superb strike received 42% of the vote. In second place was Jurgen Klopp piggy-backing Sadio Mane after his debut wondergoal vs Arsenal in 2016 (24%) and it was the 6-1 thrashing of Crystal Palace in 1994 that came third in the table of Liverpool’s most memorable opening day moments – a game where Ian Rush bagged a brace (4%).

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