Paul Merson says replacing Sadio Mane with Darwin Nunez will be a “worry” for Liverpool as they look to go toe-to-toe with Manchester City in the Premier League again this season.
Liverpool were beaten to the title by a single point in 2021-22 as Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola’s side broke away from the chasing pack.
The duo have added big-money strikers to their ranks this summer, with Erling Haaland joining Manchester City and Darwin Nunez moving to Liverpool.
And Merson believes City will have the edge again heading into the new season, as he has believes Nunez taking to the Premier League like Luis Diaz when he arrived in January is a “long shot”.
“I think Manchester City will win the Premier League, but I have to say it’s not as much of a foregone conclusion as others make it out to be,” he wrote for Sportskeeda.
“Erling Haaland’s arrival is obviously a massive boost for Pep Guardiola, but it’s not the end of it with Liverpool still very much in the running. With the departures of Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling, Manchester City have lost at least 30 Premier League goals between the pair and that could turn out to be a huge problem for them.
“The only worry for Liverpool, on the other hand, is that they’ve lost an unbelievable player in Sadio Mane, who scored big goals for them over the years. They’ll have to rely on Darwin Nunez to settle as quickly as Luis Diaz did, which is obviously a long shot because the Colombian took to English football like a duck to water. If Jurgen Klopp can get Nunez firing immediately, it’ll be tight once again, but if that doesn’t happen, I think Manchester City should win the Premier League.”
Merson also had his say on the race for the Golden Boot this season.
“I always go for Harry Kane when someone asks me to predict the winner of the Golden Boot because he’s some player,” said Merson. “He had three league goals last season until December but ended up finishing just four shy of Mohamed Salah and Heung-min Son, who shared the Golden Boot with 23 goals apiece. The only issue is that Kane might not play every game this season due to a number of reasons.
“For starters, his injury-record doesn’t make for good reading and to make matters worse, the 2022 FIFA World Cup is coming up in December, so he could well be rested to stay fit for the whole season. Additionally, the arrival of Richarlison could see Antonio Conte rotate his star man, so it’ll be really interesting to see how this one pans out.
“Erling Haaland obviously deserves a mention and is likely to be up there fighting for the Golden Boot, while Gabriel Jesus could relish being the protagonist at Arsenal. The Gunners always create chances, so the Brazilian could be one to watch out for. Liverpool’s Darwin Nunez also has to be up there, doesn’t he? I’m intrigued to see how this lad turns out, because I haven’t seen much of him so far. Is he as good as his price tag suggests? Only time will tell.
“Mohamed Salah will also be up there, as he always is. He signed a long-term deal with Liverpool and already has three Premier League Golden Boots to his name. Who is to say he doesn’t have another one left in him?”