Liverpool have completed the signing of Uruguayan international striker Darwin Nunez from Portuguese outfit Benfica. The Reds, who have been in the market for a new attacker, did speak to PSG’s Kylian Mbappe briefly, but now they’ve taken the plunge to smash their current transfer record in a deal that could be worth up to £85 million.
Nunez, 22, is a player who Liverpool fans will be familiar with after the prolific goalscorer bagged goals in both quarter-final legs against them in this year’s Champions League. While it’s likely that the club were already aware of Nunez and tracking the former UD Almeria striker’s progress. However, following the quarter-final second leg, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp commented that Nunez had “a big career ahead of him” and went on to add that he is “physically strong, quick and calm around his finish.”
With Klopp evidently a big fan of Nunez, you could say that Liverpool would always make a move. However, they have perhaps been forced into acting faster for a couple of reasons. First, Sadio Mane is reportedly set to leave Anfield this summer, with FC Bayern his likely destination. So, there’s a need to replace a player of Mane’s calibre immediately if Liverpool want to continue challenging for honours domestically and in Europe.
Manchester City, who pipped Liverpool to the Premier League title, have upped the ante somewhat with the signing of Erling Haaland. It shows City mean business, and the Norwegian’s arrival is only going to make them stronger and put them in a great position to defend their Premier League crown. So, Liverpool responding with a marquee signing of their own was essential, allowing them to keep pace with their rivals.
A new era is dawning at Old Trafford with Erik ten Hag taking over as manager, and Nunez was reportedly high on Manchester United’s list of targets. It’s another reason why Liverpool chose to act now rather than risk losing one of world football’s top young talents to a rival team. The Anfield outfit are a great sell right now, as Klopp consistently delivers trophies, which ultimately allowed them to wrap up the deal ahead of others quickly.
So, what will Nunez bring to Liverpool? Well, the first thing is goals. Since joining Benfica, the Uruguayan has scored forty-eight goals and made sixteen assists in eighty-five outings across all competitions. He has a direct goal involvement every 0.97 games and has proven himself capable of scoring in the Champions League too, which will be crucial for Liverpool moving forwards.
Another weapon in Nunez’s locker is his ability to play through the middle, wide left and as a second striker. Klopp has always preferred players in his forward line who can play anywhere across the front three, and with Mane, who has been deployed centrally and wide left during his time at Anfield, set to leave the club, Nunez is the ideal replacement to fill the void.