Liverpool have spent a large chunk of this portion of the season without a proven number six since the exit of Brazilian midfielder Fabinho to the Saudi Pro League. Whilst it hasn’t been a huge detriment to their season so far, Jurgen Klopp has had to plug holes with Alexis Mac Allister being asked to deputise in a deeper midfield role.
The Reds have been linked with a move for a proven and in form Premier League defensive midfielder and we caught up with former Liverpool icon John Barnes to garner his thoughts on Liverpool’s potential next transfer target.
In this article:
- Liverpool need Douglas Luiz
- Arsenal, City and Liverpool heading into a three horse race
- If Nunez could finish like Haaland he would be the best in the world
- Nunez is never going to be Wright or Fowler but can still improve
Liverpool Need Douglas Luiz
The summer of 2023 marked a period of significant change for Liverpool, especially in their midfield. Key players like Fabinho and Jordan Henderson, who were proven Premier League and Champions League winners, departed. Fabinho, in particular, was known for his defensive midfield skills, adept at plugging defensive gaps, intercepting passes, and breaking lines.
Liverpool competed with Chelsea for the signings of Moises Caicedo and Romeo Lavia but ultimately lost out on both, entering the season without a proven defensive midfielder. Meanwhile, Douglas Luiz of Aston Villa has had a strong start to the season and has reportedly caught the attention of Liverpool, Manchester City, and Arsenal. Barnes believes that Luiz and Liverpool are a perfect match for each other’s needs.
“City already have Rodri and in fact they initially had Douglas Luiz and let him go. Liverpool needs someone like Luiz more than City do. City won’t be playing him and Rodri together.
“Liverpool need a defensive midfielder in the number six role so from his point of view in terms of game time and playing more regularly coming to Liverpool would make the most sense.
“It’s clear from his quality why so many of the top sides are interested. Villa will take some persuading because of how good he has been but we know how football works now.
“Money talks and I think we’ve seen if a player wants to leave there’s not much a manager can do to stop the player. It’s the way football is.”
Arsenal, City And Liverpool Heading Into A Three Horse Race
After 13 games, Arsenal lead the league with 30 points, closely followed by Manchester City with 29 and both Liverpool and Aston Villa with 28 points each. This close competition suggests a potential three-horse race for the title. However, it might be too early to definitively state who will be contending for the title come April/Mat. Despite this, the performances of Arsenal, City, and Liverpool indicate they are significantly ahead of the chasing pack. Whilst Barnes believes it’s premature to make solid predictions about the title contenders, he expresses that he would be surprised if these three teams aren’t in the top three positions come March.
“No matter what people say at the start of the season, who’s going to be in the title race, we’re nearly in December and as much as it looks that Man City, Arsenal and Liverpool are there, other teams are also there and thereabouts.
“When it comes to February and March, I’ve always said, regardless of what’s happening up until Christmas, when February and March comes, you’ll see the title race really take shape.
“Not as much in terms of numbers and positioning but in terms of who’s playing well, who’s fit, which team’s players are in form, whose players are out of form but they can still get results.
“I’d be very surprised if, come February-March – the business end of the season – if these three teams aren’t the top three, as they are now, but more comfortably.”
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Barnes Draws Nunez And Haaland Comparison
Liverpool forward Darwin Núñez faced criticism following the top-of-the-table clash against Manchester City over the weekend. Despite finding himself in multiple promising goal-scoring situations, he struggled to display a decisive finishing touch in and around the penalty area. Núñez has exhibited signs of promise and potential, notably in his ability to connect with fellow attackers, especially Mohamed Salah. While Núñez has been under scrutiny recently, Barnes remains supportive of the Uruguayan forward.
“Darwin Nunez works hard for the team and never shies away from the ball. He shows for the hall, he gets on the ball, helps his team mates. If Darwin Nunez was as good a finisher as Erling Haaland, Robbie Fowler or Alan Shearer he would be the best player in the world.
“The physical qualities Nunez has are things those players didn’t have. You can’t have it both ways. If he was a fantastic finisher he wouldn’t have come to Liverpool for £60m.”
Nunez Is Never Going To Be Wright Or Fowler But Can Still Improve
Barnes is clearly a huge of Nunez, despite his flaws and backs the striker to eventually improve aspects of his game including his finishing. It appears that despite the views of the football world, Nunez still has the backing of Liverpool and the club’s fanbase.
“With what he has and the attributes of aggression and his mentality, his hold up play and his willingness to work, he’s okay for Liverpool.
“If Matt Le Tissier ran around more he would have cost £500m. If Vinnie Jones had lots of skill he would have cost £200m. You can’t have it both ways.
“He can improve in terms of his finishing but he’s never going to be a finisher like a Robbie Fowler or an Ian Wright. I’m pleased and the fans love him so he’ll be fine.”