Virgil van Dijk has heaped praise upon Darwin Nunez for beginning to live up to his mega £85m price tag, after the Liverpool (opens in new tab) striker bagged a brace in Saturday’s 3-1 win over Southampton (opens in new tab) at Anfield.
Nunez became the Reds’ most expensive signing of all time when he made the switch from Benfica (opens in new tab) in June – but, after scoring in his first two appearances for Jurgen Klopp’s side, the Uruguay (opens in new tab) international went off the boil.
It started when he lost his cool on his home debut, being given a straight red card for headbutting Crystal Palace (opens in new tab)’s Joachim Andersen midway through the first half of 1-1 draw on the second weekend of the Premier League season. That resulted in a three-match ban for the 23-year-old, who then endured a five-game goal drought.
But Nunez has since found the net seven times in 10 outings in all competitions – and Van Dijk is delighted to see his teammate thriving after a bumpy start. He said (opens in new tab):
“We never doubted his quality, but obviously – when you have price tag like that and the goals are not flowing like you want – it’s good [that he has shown character], and I think he’s done very well.
“Obviously, he has all the qualities for a modern-day striker.
“There is a reason why we bought him, and he’s maturing; he’s stayed patient, kept his head down and played, and that’s a credit to him and hopefully he can keep scoring and stay important for the group.”
Like Nunez, Van Dijk is about to head off to World Cup; he’ll captain Louis van Gaal’s Netherlands (opens in new tab) at what will be his very first major tournament.