Peter Crouch claims he drew comparisons between himself and Darwin Nunez after the Uruguayan struggled to sparkle after his £85million move to Liverpool last summer – but believes the forward now looks like a new signing.
Nunez arrived from Benfica with high expectations last year but found it difficult to catch the eye and scored just nine goals in the league – while Man City’s new addition Erling Haaland made headlines for breaking numerous goalscoring records.
But now he looks to have turned a page after a positive start to the season that has seen him score twice and provide one assist already. Former Liverpool striker Crouch said he could sympathise with Nunez and his tough start having also suffered a goal drought when he arrived at Anfield in 2005.
Crouch failed to score for 18 games after joining from Southampton before putting the difficult run to bed against Wigan in a 3-0 win.
Now a pundit for TNT Sports, the 42-year-old believes Nunez looks ‘full of confidence’ – particularly after a heroic display in front of goal that saw him score twice in quick succession to dramatically help Liverpool beat Newcastle at the death last month.
Peter Crouch believes Darwin Nunez is ‘like a new signing’ for Liverpool after his bright start to the season
Nunez initially struggled to adapt after his £85m switch from Benfica last summer
Speaking ahead of Liverpool’s trip to Wolves, which will be aired live on TNT Sports, he said it was crucial that Nunez was given longer to settle in and now looked like a new signing for manager Jurgen Klopp.
‘[The parallels] were similar, he didn’t go 18 games [without scoring] though!’ he told Mail Sport. ‘There were the odd misses and he felt quite raw at times. I did see a small comparison [to himself] but he was ahead of me at that stage.
‘My drought was much longer than his. I do think he scored goals but there was always that element where it was, “Is he right? Will he do it?”. He came in the same window as Haaland and it was “Who is better?” Haaland had this amazing start and Nunez was falling foul of that, that comparison I felt. This year, that’s all gone. It’s a new season, he’s scoring goals and you will really see the real Darwin Nunez.
‘The thing with him is that he was scoring goals last year, there were times where he did look out of sorts. Now he looks full of confidence. With the Newcastle game, when you win games like that in the manner that you did, kind of on your own, the finishes were top class. It’s confidence and he looks like a confidence player.
‘Given that opportunity and that year to settle, it’s like a new signing almost and I feel the same with Luiz Diaz. He’s a £100m player and Liverpool didn’t have him last year. I feel there’s a feel-good factor and I’m hoping that continues.’
Nunez has come to life for Liverpool after scoring twice already for the Reds this season
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Crouch added that Liverpool is one of the best clubs to be at for a striker who is out of form. The towering former England striker joined Liverpool just after they had won the Champions League in 2005 but was given patience by then-boss Rafa Benitez.
He feels Nunez has had that same chance to slowly show his talent that saw him fire in 34 goals for Benfica in the 2021-22 campaign.
‘When he was getting a little bit of criticism, a lot of that was outside Liverpool and outside the club,’ he added. ‘When you are going through a tough time, as long as you are giving everything and helping the team but not scoring, there’s no better place in the world.
‘If I had signed for any club other than Liverpool after they had just won the Champions League and I hadn’t scored for that long, I don’t think there’s many clubs in the world that would stick with you as long as they did with me. That’s why I think Nunez is in such a good place to play his football.’
Crouch said he saw similarities between himself and Nunez after famously going 18 goals without a game when he joined Liverpool in 2005
He also gave advice to Harry Maguire – who is facing huge criticism over his recent displays
Crouch also touched on criticism faced by other players – namely Harry Maguire after being jeered by England fans and criticise by pundits following their 3-1 win over Scotland in midweek.
He urged Maguire to ‘keep his head down and prove people wrong’, praising him for his conduct and refusing to let the pressure get to him – having had a similar experience of being booed by England fans on his debut against Colombia in 2005.
‘He’s dealing with it in the right manner,’ Crouch said. ‘It would be easy for him to come out effing and blinding but he hasn’t done that. He’s just carried on and let his football do the talking.
‘He found himself out of form and out of the team but he’s conducted himself really well. I’m speaking from experience of being booed by his own fans at Old Trafford with England. I do understand what he’s going through, but I managed to keep my head down and prove people wrong – that’s what he’s got to do now.’
Peter Crouch was speaking ahead of Wolves v Liverpool, which will be shown live and exclusive on TNT Sports 1 from 11am on Saturday, 16th September. TNT Sports is available through its streaming destination discovery+ and across all major TV platforms. This isn’t Just Sport, This is Everything. For more info visit: tntsports.co.uk/football