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Liverpool assistant manager Pep Lijnders raves about Darwin Nuñez and Luis Díaz



Pepijn Lijnders has been Jurgen Klopp's assistant at Liverpool since June 2018.

With the Uruguayan Darwin Nuñez and the Colombian Luis Diaz, Liverpool FC have signed two South American players within a few months. There is a system to this, as assistant coach Pep Lijnders tells in an exclusive interview SPOX and GOAL reveals.

“This South American soul! That’s what we want and what we really like in a player. They have fire, they’re hungry, they work – that makes them perfect for us,” explains Jürgen Klopp’s assistant.

Nuñez and Diaz were previously “Porto’s best player and Benfica’s best player,” according to the Dutchman. Regarding the Colombian, Lijnders even says that Liverpool “needed the boy like water in the desert”.

That’s why they wanted to sign Diaz last winter: “We really wanted him in January. For a short time it looked like we’d have to wait until summer. When that changed, we were very happy.”

Lijnders compares the 25-year-old’s “clean technical style” with the playing style of legends like Hristo Stoichkov or Brian Laudrup: “The team needed him. This way of stealing balls from defenders, working on the goalkeeper, the ball under massive pressure to assert and finish. He gave us that energy in the last third, both offensively and defensively, from day one.”

Klopp’s assistant coach is just as enthusiastic about the signing of Darwin Nuñez, who is being hunted from half of Europe: “We’ve had Darwin on our list for a long time.” The 23-year-old is “a center forward who plays along. Not a rigid number nine. We think that can open up space for others and we want to get even better.”

Klopp’s assistant coach: Nuñez “an animal” in training

The fact that this new element also involves a certain risk after Sadio Mané’s departure is not a problem for Lijnders: “We don’t lose faith in the players. We don’t judge players by a game or a moment, never.”

Nuñez is “an animal” in the daily training work and works very hard on himself, according to the Dutchman: “He’s something special and it’s cool that he’s with us.”

In general, the intense Liverpool style of play is designed to keep everyone improving: “The more you play with us, the better you get – because you have no other choice. And if James Milner can get even better, then Luis Diaz can and Darwin Nuñez even more so.”

Diaz joined the Reds last winter and has already recorded four goals and three assists in a successful first half in 13 Premier League appearances. Nuñez could still become the most expensive Liverpool signing in history with bonuses after his summer transfer and has already scored once in both his first Premier League game and in the Community Shield.