Darwin Nunez has agreed to a six-year contract with Liverpool

“The obvious comparison here is with the last South American Liverpool, Luis Diaz.

“Diaz attacks from the left and cuts his right foot harder, exactly the role of Sadio Mane. You can see how it fits into the model.

“Darwin Nunez changes the model a bit because he is a very mobile striker who can serve the channels, but he is a centre-forward and a No9. “It’s something that Liverpool didn’t quite have in their mix. Jurgen Klopp is obviously willing to shell out big bucks to bring in something a little different to what he already has.

“Nunez has managed to jump through all the hoops that have been placed before him in his career so far.

“Uruguay have such a small population that they cannot hope to keep their most promising players but they were in the Uruguayan first division for a year, then very well in the Spanish second division with Almeria and then two excellent seasons at Benfica. “This is a bigger step forward. It’s a much, much stronger competition. But he seems to have all the assets to succeed from a technical point of view.

Darwin Nunez couldn’t have asked for a better audition before future boss Jurgen Klopp than scoring twice against Liverpool in the Champions League quarter-final.

The 22-year-old scored a goal in every game as Benfica suffered a 6-4 aggregate defeat, taking their tally to six out of 10 games last season and helping convince the Premier League side of what is a club-record £85m for the Uruguay International, surpassing the £75m paid for Virgil van Dijk in 2018. While Sadio Mane is expected to move on, Klopp will continue to develop his forward line with a player coveted by some of the continent’s biggest clubs as he has just completed his second season in Europe.

Fellow countryman Luis Suarez has been promoting the youngster since joining Spanish second division club Almeria three years ago, but Barcelona’s financial constraints have prevented him from capitalizing on the veteran striker’s recommendation. “I have 15 years of international experience so I know a thing or two about strikers,” Suarez recalled. “And I said to them, ‘Look at this one, it’s very good, it has some very interesting things’.”

Instead, it’s another former Suarez club that will benefit from another rising South American talent who honed his craft in Portugal. The Reds also signed Luis Diaz from Porto in January. When Nunez joined Benfica in September 2020 after scoring 16 goals in his only season in Spain, it was a club record €24m (£20m), but in a first season affected by Covid and injuries, he stuttered rather than surprised and recorded just six championships. goals, despite 10 assists in the division.

“When he arrived, it was a bit scary. I said I thought it would be the biggest flop in Benfica’s history because it costs so much money and what we saw at the start was a bit scary,” said Filipe Ingles of the Benfica FM podcast. .

“I even said if he scored 30 goals in a season I would buy his shirt because I never thought he could do something like that, but he’s improved so much over the these two seasons.

Ingles swallowed his words with glee – and picked up a Darwin 9 shirt as the young striker returned Benfica’s faith with 34 goals in all competitions last season, including 26 in 28 league appearances. “He’s made a lot of progress. Physically he’s become a monster, he’s so physical and fast and another thing he’s improved a lot is confidence,” Ingles continued. “He was the kind of striker who sometimes didn’t have the confidence to score; he was always trying to pass the ball to another player and it’s something we all saw in the first season who had that problem. He was much more confident, he started scoring goals “.

Former Benfica manager Jorge Jesus spoke about it when the club bought Nunez’s record two years ago, predicting it would soon be worth much more. “All that decision making, refinement and speed,” Jesus said. “It was the most expensive purchase of Benfica and if there is no pandemic it will be the most expensive.”

A direct replacement for Mane? Nunez’s impressive scoring performance and imposing stature give him the image of a traditional number nine and of his 48 goals in 85 games at Benfica, 92% came from within.

But the striker’s relentless speed also made him widely used on the left for both the club and the national team and his former Almeria manager Jose Gomes told Portuguese newspaper Record that the player will be ideal for the Klopp’s system at Liverpool. “Klopp likes to play by looking for space in the back of the opponent’s defenses,” he said. “Which means we can say that Darwin will feel like a fish out of water, because speed and quick attack are characteristics that he prefers.”

With Mane ready to go, Takumi Minamino for sale and Divock Origi already gone, Nunez will complete Klopp’s offensive options and it is the Senegalese striker’s loss of power that needs to be addressed urgently. Nunez contributed a total of 36 goals and assists in the top flight and Champions League to Manes’ 23 last season – and in nine games less – while averaging a goal every 81 minutes and showing up more disciplined with a shot conversion than the outgoing 30-year-old. – old from 31.4% to 17.6%.

Unsurprisingly, the Uruguayan had more touches in the penalty area per 90 minutes – 8.4 compared to Mane’s 6.7 – and also dribbled more (1.8 to 1.6), although the 1 Mane’s .5 per game were higher than Nunez’s 1.2.

“I don’t know if he feels ready to come in and take the Premier League by storm,” Ingles added. “He’s a bit shy and I don’t know if he speaks English or if he has that confidence; he can do the same – pass instead of shoot – especially if he looks sideways and has Mohamed Salah or Roberto Firmino.

But if the club gives him confidence and time to grow, he has the potential to be a great striker in the Premier League. ”
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