Who is Darwin Nunez? The ‘modern striker’ signing for Liverpool

Portuguese club Benfica confirm a deal for the Uruguay international worth up to €100m

Darwin Nunez scored against Liverpool in both legs of the Champions League quarter-final
Darwin Nunez scored against Liverpool in both legs of the Champions League quarter-final
(Image credit: Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

Darwin Nunez is set to sign for Liverpool after Portuguese club Benfica announced that a deal had been struck for the Uruguay international.

In a statement Benfica said the Premier League side will pay an initial €75m (£64m) for the striker, rising to a potential €100m (£85m) with add-ons. The transfer is subject to the 22-year-old agreeing personal terms and completing a medical.

Once the deal goes through, it will “break Liverpool’s previous transfer record” – £75m for Virgil van Dijk from Southampton in January 2018, Sky Sports said. Nunez will sign “a six-year contract, worth more than £6m per year”, the Daily Mail added.

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Nunez scored 34 goals in 41 games across all competitions for Benfica in the 2021-2022 season. He was on target six times in ten Uefa Champions League games, including both quarter-final legs against his new club in April.

At international level he has scored two goals in 11 games for Uruguay. And he is expected to be part of his country’s squad for this year’s Fifa World Cup in Qatar.

Nunez’s qualities: what sort of player is he?

Benfica signed Nunez in 2020 from Spanish side Almeria for €24m (£20.5m). After two years in Portugal, Liverpool’s rivals Manchester United were also keen on “trying to lure the prolific goalscorer to Old Trafford”, said talkSPORT. However, the player “has his heart set on Jurgen Klopp’s side and is keen to play Champions League football next season”.

Speaking on Sky Sports News, Portuguese football expert Pedro Sepulveda said Liverpool were getting a “modern football striker” like Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe – a forward who doesn’t just focus on scoring goals. “They focus on playing for the team and making the whole team play well. That’s why we’re talking about €100m.” Under Liverpool manager Klopp, Nunez can be “one of the top strikers in the world”, Sepulveda added.

In the past 12 months Nunez has been the subject of “intense gossip” with Newcastle United and West Ham also interested in his signature, said Llew Davies on Scouted Football. The striker has enjoyed a “remarkable” and rapid rise since starting his senior career at Club Atlético Peñarol in Uruguay. His skillset “bristles with the extraordinary” and his athleticism is “a game-changer” which is only enhanced by “incisive movement and intelligent instincts”.

Nunez in, Mane out: an attacking overhaul at Anfield?

Nunez “idolises” former Liverpool striker and international team-mate Luis Suarez, said the Daily Mail. And his signing represents “another quality addition” to an attacking line “already filled with talent”.

He becomes Liverpool’s second high-profile signing this year from Portugal’s Primera Liga, following Luis Díaz’s move from Porto in January. He’s also Liverpool’s second signing of the summer transfer window with Fulham’s Portuguese 19-year-old Fabio Carvalho officially joining on 1 July.

The next 12 months could prove to be “crucial” for Liverpool and one that may “represent the end of an era”, said Martin Macdonald on FootballTransfers. The futures of their three star forwards – Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino – are up in the air with the trio out of contract in the summer of 2023.

Nunez’s arrival would allow Mane “to say an emotional goodbye to the Kop” after six successful years at Anfield, The Mirror said. Linked with a move to German giants Bayern Munich, the Senegal international has scored 120 goals in 269 games since joining Liverpool in June 2016 and has won the Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup, EFL Cup, Uefa Super Cup and Club World Cup.

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Mike Starling is the digital features editor at The Week, where he writes content and edits the Arts & Life and Sport website sections and the Food & Drink and Travel newsletters. He started his career in 2001 in Gloucestershire as a sports reporter and sub-editor and has held various roles as a writer and editor at news, travel and B2B publications. He has spoken at a number of sports business conferences and also worked as a consultant creating sports travel content for tourism boards. International experience includes spells living and working in Dubai, UAE; Brisbane, Australia; and Beirut, Lebanon.