Liverpool are increasingly confident of signing Darwin Nunez from Benfica as Sadio Mane’s move to Bayern Munich edges closer, GOAL can confirm.
The Reds are prepared to pay a club-record fee of more than £75 million ($94m) to land the Uruguayan striker, who is also wanted by Manchester United.
And though they have now rejected two bids from Bayern for Mane, the second worth around £30m ($38m), there is an acceptance at Anfield that a deal will eventually be struck, and that the Senegalese star will join the Bundesliga champions.
What’s the latest with Liverpool’s move for Darwin Nunez?
Nunez has emerged as Liverpool’s top attacking transfer target this summer, as Jurgen Klopp continues his overhaul of the Reds’ famous front three.
Mane’s expected departure, plus the drop-off in Roberto Firmino’s form over the past two seasons, has meant additions are crucial. Liverpool brought in Diogo Jota from Wolves in 2020, and added Luis Diaz from Porto in January, but are now prepared to spend big to land one of Europe’s up-and-coming centre-forwards.
Nunez, 22, impressed against the Reds for Benfica in the Champions League quarter-final earlier this year, scoring home and away. Klopp was particularly taken with the former Almeria man’s physicality and work-ethic, and has received glowing reports from his recruitment team about the forward’s professionalism and desire for self-improvement.
Benfica, GOAL understands, are willing to do business this summer, but Liverpool would have to break their transfer record, set in 2018 when they signed Virgil van Dijk from Southampton, if they are to land Nunez.
What about Sadio Mane and Bayern Munich?
In terms of Mane, the expectation now is that the 30-year-old will get his wish and join Bayern in this transfer window.
The German giants have received encouragement from the player and his representative, Bjorn Bezemer, that he is ready to move to the Bundesliga, though Liverpool sources insist that their valuation of around £40m ($50m) must be met, and that the club will have a replacement lined up, if not already signed, before they let him go.
Bayern’s first two offers have been knocked back, with the second described as “laughable” by club sources. It consisted of just £23.5m ($29.5m) guaranteed, with the rest of the £30m ($38m) fee made up of ambitious add-ons, such as one payable if Mane was to win the Ballon d’Or in each of the next three seasons.
Mane, like Firmino and Mohamed Salah, is about to enter the final 12 months of his contract, and Liverpool had intended to re-open negotiations about an extension once this season was finished.
Now, though, they are resigned to losing a player who has scored 120 goals across six years with the club. They remain keen to discuss a new contract with Salah, who has already stated publicly that he will not be leaving this summer, while Firmino is expected to be allowed to run his deal down.
Any other Liverpool transfer business going on?
Liverpool also hope to seal the £4m ($5m) signing of Aberdeen teenager Calvin Ramsay in the next few days.
The Scotland U21 right-back will join as back-up to Trent Alexander-Arnold, with Neco Williams attracting interest from a host of Premier League clubs, including Fulham, where he spent the second half of the season on loan.
Williams is valued at more than £10m ($12.5m) while Liverpool also expect bids for Japanese international forward Takumi Minamino, with Leeds and Wolves currently leading the race. Minamino, who scored 10 goals last season despite limited playing time, is rated at around £15m ($19m).
Divock Origi is set to join AC Milan on a free transfer, James Milner has signed a new one-year contract, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is likely to leave, with West Ham among those keen.
Nat Phillips should also have offers, though may be allowed to go on loan again, along with the likes of Sepp Van den Berg, Rhys Williams, Leighton Clarkson and Owen Beck.