Published On: Fri, Jan 12th, 2024
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Liverpool have ‘best substitute in the Premier League’ outdoing Arsenal and Man City duo | Football | Sport

Liverpool have statistically the most impactful substitute in the Premier League. Darwin Nunez took his total of assists for the season to 10 on Wednesday night in the 2-1 Carabao Cup semi-final first leg win over Fulham at Anfield.

The Uruguayan teed up Curtis Jones before his deflected strike from distance made it 1-1, then went on a run down the left-hand side before crossing for Cody Gakpo to make it 2-1. Nunez is now on eight goals and 10 assists in 30 appearances this season.

But just 17 of those appearances have been starts, and he has only amassed 1,667 minutes (team-mate Mohamed Salah is the highest in the squad on 2,045). That means Nunez is averaging a direct goal contribution every 92.6 minutes. He is averaging an assist every 167 minutes, to be specific.

And that is a better rate than any other Premier League player across all competitions. Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka has the most assists with 11, one more than Nunez, at an average of one every 200 minutes. While Man City’s Julian Alvarez, on nine, is averaging an assist every 232 minutes.

Both of those are starting more regularly than Nunez. And the stats show the 24-year-old is actually the most impactful player off of the bench of anyone in England’s top flight.

Nunez has contributed three goals and four assists from the bench in the Premier League, Europa League, FA Cup and Carabao Cup this term. That’s from 13 substitute appearances. No other player for a team in the same league has more goal contributions as a sub.

Now, Nunez will be eager to improve his goal tally. He has five Premier League goals despite an xG (expected goals) of 11.13. Only four players in the league have a higher xG, including Salah, who is a superior finisher to Nunez and is on 14 goals from an xG of 13.61 by contrast.

Unfortunately for Nunez, only Everton frontman Dominic Calvert-Lewin (-3.9) is underperforming his xG more than him (-3.6). The South American, who could end up costing Liverpool £85million overall, has been unlucky in moments but too rash in others when moments required him to be cool and composed.

The fact he is involved in so many opportunities will still delight Klopp. The German said of the 24-year-old after the win over Fulham, in which Nunez was denied several times by Bernd Leno: “I don’t know how to explain the Darwin situation. I’m so happy about our crowd, how they take it; I’m so happy about Darwin’s reaction, how he takes it.

“But you cannot be more unlucky than he was in this finishing situation, it’s just not possible. There was absolutely everything right, then the ball didn’t go in. Then he still sets up the other goal. I really think that’s really special to do that, again. Super special.”

Clearly Klopp is a massive fan of his forward and appreciates his unrelenting efforts. And if Nunez can become as productive with goals as he’s turning out to be with assists, he won’t be the best sub in the league for much longer. And that’s because he’ll be proving far too useful to be benched.

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