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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has been impressed with Darwin Nunez’s attitude as the striker’s near misses in front of goal continue.

The Uruguay international has scored just once in his last 16 club appearances but that barely tells the full story of the 24-year-old’s overall contribution.

Nunez helped turn around Wednesday’s Carabao Cup semi-final against Fulham with two assists to allow the Reds to take a 2-1 lead to Craven Cottage for the second leg, but he could also have had a hat-trick in the last 15 minutes after coming on as a substitute.

After the match even Klopp said he was at a loss to explain why the forward had not scored more, but praised his value to the team in other areas.

Nunez’s ninth and 10th assists of the season took him past Mohamed Salah and Trent Alexander-Arnold as Liverpool’s chief creator and an important part of that has been the South American’s better decision-making in the final third.

And he continues to be a Kop favourite despite his goal drought as fans appreciate the energy he brings and the disruption it causes for other players to benefit.

“I’m so happy about our crowd and how they take it; I am so happy about Darwin’s reaction and how he takes it,” said Klopp, who is content for the Uruguayan to contribute in other ways.

“He did it (provide an assist) for Curtis (Jones) against West Ham and now for Cody (Gakpo). Super-special.”

Nunez’s background numbers do not equate with his top line – goals scored – as he is averaging more shots per game (4.6) per 90 minutes than anyone else in the Premier League this season, but his return of five is well below his xG (expected goals) of 8.6.

He averages a goal or assist every 93 minutes and has 18 goal involvements in total, just one behind last season’s tally of 15 goals and four assists.

And his minutes per non-penalty goal contribution is bettered only by team-mate Diogo Jota (89.9 minutes) among all top-flight players.

Nunez has also contributed seven (three goals, four assists) of the 30 goal involvements by Liverpool substitutes in the current campaign which has played a huge part in Klopp’s side topping the Premier League in addition to fighting on three other fronts.

“It’s mentality. To turn around a game, first and foremost you need quality; to turn a game around you obviously need belief,” said Klopp of his team’s ability to pull off wins from unfavourable positions.

“We had that this season where we had to overcome real difficulties very early in the season and nobody knew how we would react on that because you cannot plan it, you cannot train, you just watch it.

Liverpool’s Cody Gakpo
Cody Gakpo came off the bench to score the winner against Fulham (Peter Byrne/PA)

What is equally impressive is Liverpool are managing to still get the results even with a long absentee list.

Salah and Wataru Endo are currently away at the Africa Cup of Nations and Asian Cup respectively, while Alexander-Arnold, Thiago Alcantara, Dominik Szoboszlai, Joel Matip, Andy Robertson, Kostas Tsimikas and Stefan Bajcetic are all recovering from injuries of varying length.

An 11-day break should help in getting some of those back, potentially Szoboszlai and Robertson with Alexander-Arnold soon after, but Klopp has been pleased with how they have coped.

“We don’t go for excuses but it is obvious you have to change,” he said.

“It’s not the problem that the players are not there, rather the problem is the patterns you develop over the weeks or months are not there. That’s more the problem.”