Darwin Nunez: Liverpool transfer target has Luis Suarez similarities but ‘not worth €80m’
With Liverpool reportedly agreeing personal terms with Darwin Nunez we spoke to a Uruguayan football expert to get the lowdown on the forward from Penarol.
Darwin Nunez’s proposed transfer to Liverpool is edging closer with reports the Benfica forward has agreed personal terms to join the Reds.
Nunez scored 34 goals in 41 appearances in all competitions last season, including two against Jürgen Klopp’s side in the Champions League.
The Liverpool boss described the Uruguayan as a “top, top boy” with a “big career ahead of him” after their meetings in April and it seems he will continue to develop under the German’s tutelage going forward.
Liverpool fans have seen Nunez in action for 180 minutes against their team but ahead of his potential transfer, we got the lowdown on the boy from Penarol with David Kraakman (@UruguayanHeroes) who has watched his development closely over several years.
“I watched him from his U20 days in Uruguay and he was rash, he missed a lot of chances and there were a lot of doubts about him. But he has this mentality which enables him to continually develop and prove people wrong,” David told LiverpoolWorld.
“Darwin is quite an unorthodox player. I’d say in this aspect he is similar to [Luis] Suarez but they are different players. They both are a bit crazy in the way they approach football!”
Where Darwin Nunez may operate in Klopp’s Liverpool team
“He obviously can play as a No.9 but he also can play on the left. He is someone who always tries to find some space in the channel between full back and centre back.
“He has good speed - I wouldn’t say he is as quick as someone like Mane - but he is quick and strong. He can really use his physique to his advantage.
“I think Virgil van Dijk commented on him as being a tough player to handle. He has the movement and awareness in the box.”
Liverpool are used to coming up against teams within the Premier League who will sit deep and restrict the space in behind as well as limit the available forward passing lanes for the Reds - also known as employing a low block.
This, however, is a tactic that Nunez struggles to break down according to David, as he says the former Almeria man has plenty still to improve on.
“Low blocks are not something he is best suited to. It’s going to be interesting to see how he does when Liverpool come up against one.
“I think he still has a lot of areas to improve on. For example, his link-up play, his first touch can sometimes be off and he also can be a bit aggressive sometimes - too aggressive which gets him into trouble.
“Jürgen Klopp and his coaching staff have a player they can work on. Liverpool have proven in the last few years they can work on players and help them improve and I think Darwin falls into that category.
Is Darwin Nunez worth €100m?
The reported fee is believed to be in excess of €80m euros, with an extra €20m in bonuses on top of that.
It would make Nunez Liverpool’s most expensive transfer if all add-ons are paid, climbing above Virgil van Dijk who cost the Reds £75m in 2018.
The question now is whether Nunez is worth that outlay.
“With transfer fees, the market is so crazy in the last few years,” David continues.
“For example, [Jack] Grealish goes for £100m [to Manchester City] and it sets a precedent for other clubs.
“Benfica is obviously a club which is quite streetwise when it comes to dealing with clubs from Spain or England and they’ve proven in the past they can get a lot of money for players.
“I would say Darwin is not worth €100m at this moment in time. We are talking about someone who has had a brilliant season in Portugal and also in the Champions League but this is his first top-quality season.
“Before this, he struggled in his first season at Benfica and at Almeria he did really well but it is the second division in Spain. If you’re pessimistic, you could say well he had one big season. Is he going to continue this or is it just a blip?
“I don’t think that will be the case, but if you approach it with this logic then €80m is a lot of money.”
Erling Haaland comparisons
Comparisons are already being made between Nunez and Erling Haaland, who signed for the team who pipped Liverpool to the Premier League title last season - Manchester City.
David believes Haaland, along with Mbappe, are in a league of their own as two of the elite younger players and Nunez isn’t quite at their level.
“I’m not saying country miles, but he is certainly some way below this based on seeing them all play.
“Nunez is a player who has qualities and is not world-class yet but is reaching this level.
“Even though he is not Haaland, I still think he can be a world-class striker for Liverpool scoring 20-25 goals a season.”