Liverpool’s potential record signing of striker Darwin Nunez from Benfica has been officially confirmed by the club. We’ve already looked at all we need to know about the Uruguayan. Now we delve into what we can expect on the pitch.

One can’t help but wonder how long Jürgen Klopp and the recruitment team have been planning this move? Bearing in mind that the Luis Diaz transfer was slated for this summer before Tottenham made a move in January, forcing the club to bring forward their plans to sign the Colombian.

It’s hard to imagine the club was planning to sign the two best players in the Primera Liga in the same window to the tune of almost £130million. Was Darwin earmarked for whenever one of the famed front three departed?

That seems the case as Sadio Mané’s imminent departure has seen the club fast track a move for the 22 year old. It is astonishing that Darwin’s capture has been wrapped up before an agreement has even been struck with Bayern Munich for the Senegalese superstar.

Away from the planning and thinking behind this signing, let’s dive into where and how Darwin will fit in. Will he go straight into the false nine position and bring his own interpretation of the role? Or will Jürgen switch to a 4-2-3-1 with the highly rated youngster leading the line?

The 6ft 2″ striker is unlike any of the forwards at Jürgen Klopp’s disposal. He is a natural born striker. Of course he can play off the left wing and look to drive infield but he is at home leading the line. Luis Diaz and Diogo Jota are both more likely to play off the left.

Meaning we can expect Darwin down the middle more often than not. That raises a few questions about the formation and setup. Will Jürgen Klopp be about to transition away from his favoured 4-3-3 to the 4-2-3-1?

The manager kept the latter setup for late on in games where teams employing low blocks were frustrating and blunting the Reds’ attack. The best example of this is the Merseyside derby at Anfield. Everton sat deep and frustrated their way to the hour mark.

Klopp then sent on Origi for Keita (whilst also switching Mané for Diaz). Divock was usually the spearhead when the manager wanted to throw four forwards at a low block. Darwin possesses similar characteristics to Divock in that sense.

He’s got the size, physique, pace and natural striker’s instinct to give defences something to think about. He also offers that South American street football trait of relentless pressing and a never give up attitude. Unlike Origi (Sturrridge before him), pressing is a natural part of Darwin’s game.

This could see the manager trust him to lead the line from the start in a 4-2-3-1 setup, certainly when facing teams that employ a low block. Instead of a break glass option, we could be seeing this move from the start on a regular basis.

This setup also allows Roberto Firmino to line up in his natural number ten position just behind Darwin. Youngster Fabio Carvalho (the club’s other summer signing) could also be offered a route into the side in that position.

The 19 year old was sensational in the Championship playing directly behind Mitrovic, building up a great understanding with the Serbian hitman. Another youngster who will thrive in that number ten role is Harvey Elliott. Before his ankle injury, the 18 year old was staking his claim.

That’s without even mentioning Curtis Jones. The Scouser is a natural number ten who has had to sacrifice a part of his game to be moulded into a central midfielder in Klopp’s 4-3-3. These are all options that could thrive in this setup and make it work.

Fabinho, Thiago, Henderson, Keita and Milner all have experience playing in a double pivot as well, meaning they won’t be averse to the formation change. The squad seems tailor-made to line up in a 4-2-3-1 (with Salah and Diaz on the right and left wing respectively).

This is not to suggest the 4-3-3 is no more. Darwin can as well lead the line in that setup. Roberto Firmino played that role differently to how Diogo Jota played it, whilst Sadio Mané also brought something different to the role on the second half of last season.

We could as well see Liverpool’s record signing showcase his own interpretation of the role. He will be required to drop deeper than ‘normal’ strikers are used to, to link up with his teammates, whilst still expected to be in the box to finish off chances.

Darwin’s arrival opens up a myriad of options for Jürgen Klopp. There are a number of variations to these two formations (4-4-2/4-2-2-2 etc) for the manager to grapple with. Pre-season will be crucial to all these plans as it offers a chance to experiment and fine-tune.

Darwin will link up with his new teammates and attempt to build understandings and partnerships on and off the pitch. He is definitely an exciting signing and it will be fun to watch him develop under the expert guidance of Jürgen Klopp.



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