Tactical Insights

‘We paid the right money’

Roque this week signed for the club last summer from Athletico Paranaense but only arrived in Catalonia last month. The 18-year-old is the latest in a series of very expensive teenagers out of Brazil with Barca having to pay an initial £25m to sign him but the deal could reach £52.2m, per the Athletic. Barca’s form has been mixed as they sit eight points off the top of La Liga but Roque has already netted twice – grabbing the winner in a tight game against Osasuna before helping himself to goals in back-to-back games after scoring in the 3-1 win over Alaves. Already, he’s netted 36 senior goals across his career so far, with the majority coming in Brazil and while he clearly possesses great potential and ability, the fans are frustrated given that they expect to be challenging for major honours and a youngster isn’t going to help them achieve that in the here and now.

Sporting director Deco has called for patience as a result, but appeared to make a strange dig at Nunez in the process. “You killed the kid before he started playing,” he said, per Fabrizio Romano. “Liverpool signed Darwin Núñez €90m, Newcastle paid €70m for [Alexander] Isak. The price analysis should be done in some time. It wasn’t too expensive, we paid the right money for a player we needed.”

For Nunez, it is ironic because he was once a target for Barca. First, he was close to agreeing a move when he was at Almeria in 2021, but Benfica swooped in with a big offer of £25m for a second-tier Spanish league player. Following that, he went on to net 48 goals and provide 16 assists in 85 games for the Portuguese club before earning that expensive move to Anfield.

This season has shown his improvement; 11 goals and 11 assists in 35 games has shown how his all-round play has improved and he has already surpassed the 19 goal contributions he managed last season. While there are times where he needs to be more clinical, he is a constant threat and is important for Liverpool and he could yet play a vital role in winning any of the four trophies that Klopp’s side are still fighting for.

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