Liverpool has already been sent Alexander Isak transfer warning amid Darwin Núñez questions

Newcastle United's Alexander Isak during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Newcastle United at Selhurst Park on April 24, 2024 in London, England.
Liverpool has been sent a warning about Alexander Isak amid Darwin Núñez scrutiny. -Credit:Rob Newell - CameraSport via Getty Images

Among the most pressing questions for the next Liverpool manager is what to do with Darwin Núñez. Almost two full seasons into his Anfield career, he remains something of an enigma.

It's true that there are only a handful of forwards who can match his all-competitions tally for goal contributions. In the Premier League alone, he needs two more assists to become just the second player to reach double figures for goals and assists, though there's a whole posse of players in with a chance of joining Ollie Watkins in this regard in the final weeks of the campaign.

But it's hard not to see the story of Núñez's season as one of missed chances, both in front of goal and more generally. It seemed when he scored a brace against Newcastle to turn the game around that he had truly arrived at Liverpool, but he never really capitalized on that — and his fluffed lines will be remembered more than most when dissecting where the title slipped away.

READ MORE: Liverpool could have four transfer targets to match Arne Slot's obsession

READ MORE: Arne Slot has three problems to immediately solve if he becomes Liverpool manager

Does the new manager — with Arne Slot now looking very likely to be that man — keep the faith with Núñez? Does Michael Edwards, for that matter, having left his original post as sporting director before a transfer for the Uruguayan was sanctioned? Or will Liverpool look to the market to try and find someone with a more clinical touch?

In theory, one candidate would be Alexander Isak. With 17 goals in the league, the Newcastle striker finds himself level with Mohamed Salah, and only Cole Palmer has a better minutes-per-goal rate among the division's top 20 marksmen.

Isak's 35 percent goal conversion rate beats even Palmer, as well as Erling Haaland, Son Heung-min and indeed Diogo Jota. The percentage for Núñez, by the way, stands at 13.

But former Liverpool and Newcastle player José Enrique has already sounded something of a warning. Though he recently endorsed Isak's quality, he raised questions over his fitness record, even suggesting the Magpies might want to consider cashing in.

"The problem with Alexander Isak — and we’ve said this about him even when he was at Real Sociedad — is that he’s always injured," Enrique told Grosvenor Sport. "The way Newcastle want to play is with high intensity and pressing from the front and you can’t be expected to fulfil that if you’re getting three or four injuries every year.

"If someone comes along and offers them the £70m ($87m/€82m) that they spent to sign him in the first place then they need to think about it. It’s not just a question of quality — I think Isak is that good that he can play for Liverpool or Manchester United for example — but it’s a question of availability too.

"He’s too injury prone, to the extent that if someone came with a lot of money this summer which gave Newcastle the opportunity to sign someone slightly worse but consistently fit, they’d have to consider that option." says: First and foremost, there's no suggestion that Liverpool is in any way minded to give up on Núñez and move for Isak. While the Uruguayan was not an Edwards signing, he will love the positions he gets in and the high-quality chances he earns for himself, even though the finishing has so far been lacking.

At the very least, Núñez probably deserves a crack under a new manager. The potential is infuriatingly obvious.

But if Liverpool was in the market for a replacement, then Enrique makes a good point about Isak. A proven clinical finisher over a number of seasons, the Reds can ill-afford another key player whose availability cannot be relied upon, with Jota already in that mold up front.