Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has no concerns about misfiring striker Darwin Nunez after revealing at Borussia Dortmund he used to regularly win money off Robert Lewandowski for failing shooting drills.
Nunez missed a number of chances in Boxing Day’s 3-1 win at Aston Villa, having also squandered opportunities in last week’s Carabao Cup defeat at Manchester City.
Having seemingly found his feet following his potential club-record transfer from Benfica in the summer with seven goals in 10 matches before the World Cup break, Klopp believes the Uruguay international will come good.
And he used Lewandowski, whom he signed for Dortmund from Lech Poznan in 2010 and helped turn into one of the game’s greatest strikers, as an example of how sometimes it takes a while for a player to get to grips with their task.
“There are a lot of similarities to be honest. Yes, I think Lewy would tell the same story,” said Klopp.
“We had shooting sessions where he didn’t finish off one. We had bets all the time for 10 euros – ‘if you score more than 10 times I will pay you 10, if you don’t you have to pay me’.
“My pocket was full of money. It’s all about staying calm. When you see the potential, stay calm. It’s so difficult in a world we are living in.
“Because of you (the media) asking and making a big fuss of everything, then the supporters, social media and all these kind of things the more you can shut off that, the better it is.
“I think we all agree that the potential is so obvious. Is everything right? No. I think it’s clear when you see the second chance, the big chance in the second half (against Villa) he can run a little bit on an angle and then he has a free choice, all these kind of things.
“But it is all coming. You do it like this, the next time you do it like that. I had this situation with Lewy but it is not only Lewy. He is the obvious comparison, I understand.
“It’s just about staying calm and I am super calm. The team is calm as well, the team is completely convinced and that’s really cool.
“Let’s hope we all, him included, stay healthy and then everything will be fine.”
Victory over Leicester at Anfield would close the gap to fourth-placed Tottenham to just two points, but with Arsenal leading the table and Newcastle third, the race for Champions League places is currently more competitive than ever.
“We all knew that Newcastle would be a massive contender from now on and it’s clear with Man United, Arsenal playing an exceptional season, all respect for that, City is City, so all of a sudden you have four teams occupying, Tottenham fighting hard, Chelsea still there,” added Klopp.
“We are back to a top six or top seven, if you like, and only four can make it. We know that absolutely.
“The quality of the opponents is obviously clear but most of the things we can still sort ourselves.
“If they win all the time we cannot get closer but we meet some of them and, for us, we are under pressure like other teams are under pressure because it’s not the nicest thing to have us three or five points behind you.
“That doesn’t give you any kind of security, but we better play a special second half of the season to have a chance to make it to the Champions League, which is obviously our target.
“Do we fight for one place? I couldn’t care less actually, one of them will do. It will be tough, definitely.”