Liverpool have completed the signing of Darwin Nunez from Benfica for a club-record fee of £85m, with the Uruguay striker signing a six-year contract.
The deal is subject to a work permit and international clearance. Darwin will wear the No 27 shirt at Anfield, which was vacated by Divock Origi this summer.
The 22-year-old scored 34 times for Benfica in all competitions last season, including goals in both legs of the club’s Champions League quarter-final defeat to Liverpool in April.
The upfront fee of £64m will rise to £85m should Nunez reach a number of milestones outlined in his agreement, which range from scoring goals to winning the Champions League.
“I’m really happy and delighted to be here at Liverpool. It’s a massive club,” Nunez told Liverpool’s club website. “It’s a pleasure to be here in Liverpool and I’m very happy to be a part of this great club.
“I’ve played against Liverpool and I’ve seen them in lots of games in the Champions League, and it’s my style of play. There are some great players here and I think it’s going to suit my style of play.
“As I say, I’ve watched quite a lot and it’s a very big club and I hope I can give everything that I’ve got in order to help the team.
“That’s one of the reasons why I came here to Liverpool – to win trophies and titles. I want to win a lot of trophies at Liverpool.”
After Liverpool’s first-leg win in Lisbon, manager Jurgen Klopp praised the player, saying: “A good-looking boy, huh? And a decent player as well! Really good, really good. I knew before, of course, but he played pretty much in front of me with his tough battles with Ibrahima Konate.
‘He was physically strong, quick, was calm around his finish. Good, really good. I always say in these situations if he is healthy, it’s a big career ahead of him.”
Manchester United, Newcastle United and clubs on the continent were also reportedly interested in signing Nunez this summer, however, Liverpool have moved quickly to complete the big-money transfer for their No 1 target.
And that could now pave the way for forward Sadio Mane to join Bayern Munich, with the Senegal international having just a year left on his current deal at the club.
Liverpool have so far rejected two bids from the Bundesliga side for the 30-year-old, the second of which was worth a potential £30m.
Klopp is convinced he can evolve Liverpool to suit Nunez
Analysis from Sky Sports’ Vinny O’Connor
Darwin Nunez is a break from the type of multi-functional players that Liverpool normally go for, but he was Jurgen Klopp’s number one target and the German is convinced he can evolve the team to suit the strengths of his new £85m signing.
Klopp and his coaches were hugely impressed with how Nunez played in the Champions League this season and, when analyzing the striker ahead of their clash with Benfica, Klopp fell in love with Nunez.
It is therefore no surprise that Liverpool’s sporting director, Julian Ward, has moved so quickly to secure a deal for the 22-year-old. Ward used his contacts in the Portuguese market and flew to Portugal to make sure the deal was swift and that Liverpool couldn’t be gazumped.
While Liverpool have broken their transfer record again, Nunez wages will see him on par with the likes of Diego Jota and Luis Diaz – at around the 140k per week mark – which is considerably less than what Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane earn.
Nunez, like Diaz before him, is not an English speaker but the club believe there are enough Brazilian and Portuguese-speaking players and staff to help Nunez settle in.
Liverpool’s decisiveness means that Nunez will benefit from a full pre-season with his new team-mates which will be crucial as Klopp looks to mold his new-look front three.
The view from Portugal: how good is Nunez?
Portuguese football expert Pedro Sepulveda speaking on Sky Sports News:
“Darwin Nunez was one of the best players this season in the Portuguese league by far. The other one was Luis Diaz who moved to Liverpool in January and that made Nunez the absolute best player.
“Benfica finished the season in third place and failed to get a direct spot in the Champions League goal in 41 games, Nunez scored 34 goals and registered four assists – so you’re talking about one of the best strikers.
“He’s a ‘modern football striker’ – like Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe – strikers who don’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.
“The biggest defect – or the less good point – about Nunez is his psychological game. In the 2020/21 season, he was not scoring many goals. He played 44 matches and only scored 14. He was criticized by the fans a little bit and the first thing he did was start suspending his social media, blocking people and not reading the comments. This proves he doesn’t deal well with critics when things start not going well. And in England, the price tag is the first thing people will talk about when he doesn’t start scoring goals.
“When you talk about a player like Darwin Nunez, you think about a typical number nine that plays inside the penalty area. But he can easily play out wide to break spaces for other players in the central areas if teams need him. It’s a very good deal for Liverpool, who already used the Portuguese league with Luis Diaz in a massive transfer for Liverpool which the winger completely deserved.
“In Jurgen Klopp’s hands, Darwin can be of the top strikers in the world. Nowadays, he’s not one of the top strikers because he doesn’t play in the top five leagues. We have to see how he develops in the Premier League, which is one of the best leagues in the world.”
The making of Darwin Nunez
Meet Darwin Nunez, the Uruguayan forward set for a big move from Benfica – and his former coaches are backing him to star in the Premier League.
Sky Sports feature writer Adam Bate speaks to those who have followed his journey from the start to find out more.
Nunez: A statistical gem?
Jurgen Klopp was full of praise for Nunez after facing the 22-year-old across two ties in the Champions League back in April. “A good looking boy, huh? And a decent player as well!” joked the Liverpool manager.
“Really good, really good. I knew before, of course, but he played pretty much in front of me with his tough battles with Ibrahima Konate.
“He was physically strong, quick, was calm around his finish. Good, really good. I always say in these situations if he is healthy, it’s a big career ahead of him.”
Nunez might be Klopp’s top target this summer but he is wanted by a raft of powerhouse clubs – so why is the forward in such high demand?
Sky Sports’ data and analysis expert Adam Smith looks at the forward’s numbers ahead of a potentially huge transfer to the Premier League.
Which positions are Liverpool targeting this summer?
Sky Sports News reporter Vinny O’Connor:
Liverpool will look to strengthen their forward line this season. The fact they even spoke to Kylian Mbappe shows how intent they are to add further quality up top.
It makes sense with Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino entering the final year of their contracts while the potential departure of Sadio Mane, who has also got one year left on his deal, and Divock Origi having already decided to go, makes reinforcements in that area a priority. If Mane is to leave, Liverpool will only look to do business for a fee above the €30m that’s been quoted and they would want a replacement sorted before allowing him to go.
With Fabio Carvalho due to officially start his Liverpool career on July 1, any further overhaul in midfield could depend on the futures of Alex Oxlade Chamberlain and Takumi Minamino. Oxlade Chamberlain made 29 appearances in a 63 game season and hasn’t played since the FA Cup win over Forest in March, while Minamino made just 24 appearances and both could look for more regular first-team opportunities. Oxlade Chamberlain is another player with just one year left on his contract.
Strengthening the back-line doesn’t appear to be a priority with Ibrahima Konate offering another option to Joel Matip and Virgil van Dijk while Joe Gomez is able to cover right-back and centre-back.
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