Liverpool assistant boss Pep Lijnders says Darwin Nunez is having “a much better season than last year” and that he sees him as a player “full of fire”.

The 24-year-old Uruguay striker, signed from Benfica in 2022 and scorer of 15 goals in all competitions for the Reds in the last campaign, has seven so far this term.

Sunday’s 0-0 draw with Manchester United made it 10 club appearances without netting, his last Liverpool goal coming in the 2-1 Carabao Cup fourth-round win at Bournemouth in early November, but Lijnders says Nunez should not be judged on goals alone.

Darwin Nunez

Speaking ahead of Wednesday’s Carabao Cup quarter-final at home against West Ham, Lijnders said: “I think Darwin is full of desire, you see this in each game, and if we would only judge players on the goals that would be so unfair, because in our way, always when we reach our targets or really were there to compete, it was always about the collective.

“I feel there is a good connection between Mo (Salah) and Darwin, the way they see each other, assist each other, and I feel above everything that Darwin is playing a much better season than last year, the way how he defends for the team, goes, chases back, his counter press as well. He helps us a lot when we are deep and we can play with him as a reference.

“It’s a long time we play with a false nine, and now its Darwin Nunez. He is learning but I like a lot, and I think this guy is full of fire. That’s what our stadium likes and that’s what we need as well, to lead the line in this way. He can only become better.

“It’s always with goals, if you create a lot, the goals will come naturally. We are creating and sometimes you have to be a little bit lucky. He feels our trust, that’s the thing we can give him.”