August 12, 2022

Liverpool have made Darwin Nunez their second summer transfer window signing. Will his arrival lead Jurgen Klopp to return to a former favorite formation?

The potential club-record fee for Nunez, 22, has ruffled many feathers, but will it rattle Liverpool’s formation or tactics?

The answer will be no, as the club only sign players that they believe match what they have already planned, but that doesn’t mean that Nunez won’t give Klopp different options.

One of them could be a return to his once favored 4-2-3-1 formation.

When Klopp’s tactics were first explored at Liverpool in 2016, after being in charge for a year, there was the start of a move from the 4-2-3-1 he used at Borussia Dortmund and in the early games at Liverpool. to the hit 4-3-3 we’ve seen versions of since.

There have been adjustments to the way midfielders operate, particularly the two in front or alongside the starting midfielder.

Depending on their individual strengths, these midfielders have done everything from supporting the front line to dropping into a flat three – or something akin to that 4-2-3-1, but not quite.

The arrival of Nunez from Benfica has led to suggestions that Klopp could return to the more orthodox version of this formation.

Nu Lewandowski?

Many German football pundits, or even some Bayern fans, are disappointed that the perennial Bundesliga champions haven’t moved on for Nunez as a replacement for Robert Lewandowski.

Before signing for Bayern, the centre-forward was a key part of Klopp’s setup at Dortmund, and comparisons between the Pole and Nunez by those who follow German football are another hint that Klopp could return to the 4- 2-3-1. .

The suggestions seem to be that Nunez is Klopp’s new Lewandowski.

At the moment we’re only guessing what Klopp and his coaching staff will do, and they might just stick to a 4-3-3, using Nunez as a cross between Roberto Firmino and Diogo Jota in that role. centre-forward.

Nunez replaces the aerial target that Liverpool will miss if Sadio Mane leaves, as well as the clumsy centre-forward of the late Divock Origi.

In some ways, he replaces both players and would allow the club to focus their recruiting efforts on other positions and attributes.

His all-around ability and athleticism, plus the fact that he’s still young enough to be molded into the type of striker Klopp wants him to be, means Lewandowski’s comparisons may carry some weight, but for the moment, the comparisons are mainly positional.

No. 10 or second striker

PARIS, FRANCE - Friday, May 27, 2022: Roberto Firmino, Harvey Elliott, Mohamed Salah, Trent Alexander-Arnold of Liverpool during a training session at Stade de France ahead of the UEFA Champions League Final match between Liverpool FC and Real Madrid CF.  (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Positioned alongside or behind Nunez in this hypothetical 4-2-3-1, Liverpool would have several options.

It will depend on whether they want to use this position to accommodate a No.10 playmaker or a supporting striker. They have options for both and will likely use both at some point.

You can imagine Firmino enjoying a breath of fresh air in this role by combining the two, while Thiago’s all-round creativity and technique allow him to easily position himself as a No.10 if needed.

This position would also be useful for young players Harvey Elliott and Fabio Carvalho. Liverpool have signed both as highly rated talents who have first-team quality.

Fulham's Fabio Carvalho celebrates (Image: PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo)

For this path to exist and attract other similar players in the future, they will have to play games.

The main thing is that they are good enough to do it; Elliott has already proven that, with Carvalho showing promising signs at Fulham.

A formation that welcomes a No.10 would be ideal for them, although both are versatile enough to play wide in 4-2-3-1 if necessary, or even in 4-3-3.

Another option in this position is Jota. The Portuguese has played a similar role for Wolves at times, around or behind a more typical No.9 in Raul Jimenez.

Last season, Jota displayed good finishing instincts in the box and showed considerable aerial prowess as well.

Imagine Diogo Jota’s aerial threat behind Nunez, making it the 4-2-4 we’ve seen sometimes from Klopp when Liverpool are looking for a goal.

Even if used when not chasing late goals, Trent Alexander-Arnold could drop in midfield rather than overlapping, which would still produce a 2-3-5 in possession that we often see with the 4 -3-3 anyway.

Other Considerations

LISBON, PORTUGAL - Tuesday, April 5, 2022: Darwin Nunez (L) of Benfica and Ibrahima Konaté of Liverpool during the UEFA Champions League Quarter-Final match between SL Benfica and Liverpool FC at Estádio da Luz.  Liverpool won 3-1.  (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

– No need for a new midfielder, for the moment…

The midfield is widely suggested as the next area of ​​the squad that needs strengthening, but if Liverpool switch to a 4-2-3-1, they may not think they need it.

With the players mentioned above as options in the position behind the striker, that leaves starting midfield spots for two in Fabinho, Jordan Henderson, Thiago, Naby Keita and James Milner.

They may consider the depth to be more than sufficient in this area.

It remains to be seen where Curtis Jones fits into this, but you imagine he could do a job in the wide positions as well as central midfield.

This means they could wait until next season to sign a new-generation midfielder, in a similar age bracket to Nunez this summer and Ibrahima Konate last.

LISBON, PORTUGAL - APRIL 05: Darwin Nunez (R) of SL Benfica celebrates with his team mate Goncalo Ramos of SL Benfica after scoring his team's first goal during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final game between SL Benfica and Liverpool FC at Estadio da Luz on April 05, 2022 in Lisbon, Portugal.  (Photo by Carlos Rodrigues - UEFA)

– 4-4-2

Given that Nunez is used to playing alongside another striker at Benfica, there is also the possibility of a formation that will end up looking like a 4-4-2 once Liverpool defend in their own half of the game. ground.

– Specialists in set pieces

Nunez scored six headers for Benfica last season, the same number Jota managed for Liverpool.

The Reds are apparently an ever-growing threat from set pieces, in terms of delivery and aerial ability, and Nunez will only add to that.