Liverpool is preparing to give one of the great blows in the European transfer market: it is about to close Darwin Núñez in exchange for a sum close to 100 million euros (more than 105 million dollars), considering an initial figure of 80 million plus another 20 million in variables. The Uruguayan striker from Benfica was dismissed from his national team due to “health” just before the international friendly against Panama, although the truth is that it transpired that he would be on his way to England to formalize what would be the most expensive signing in the history of the Reds .
A few hours after Real Madrid sealed the hiring of Frenchman Aurelién Tchouaméni for an identical figure, the squad led by Jürgen Klopp hopes to formalize the hiring of another South American footballer in the next few hours, remembering that he recently added Colombian Luis Díaz to his ranks , who gave him immediate returns. The squad of the British team that lost the last Champions League final adds hierarchy to an offensive that already has names, among others, such as Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, Diogo Jota and Sadio Mané, who would be sold for around 50 million euros and would cover part of the lavish expense of buying the charrúa.
Next Monday would be the official announcement of Núñez, who is 22 years old and would sign for 6 seasons in exchange for an onerous salary that would include bonuses for character and group objectives in addition to the basic salary. The one that emerged in Peñarol (who spent a season in Almería, Spain) comes from converting 34 goals in 41 games last season with Benfica, a club that is once again a springboard for a South American player who jumps to a European giant.
Núñez is the great appearance of Uruguayan football, to such an extent that he was defined in his country as a mix between “Suárez and Cavani” . With just a handful of professional appearances between Uruguayan, Spanish and Portuguese football, his resounding final season made him an attraction for the powerful in Europe. While Paris Saint Germain negotiated for the continuity of Kylian Mbappé weeks ago, the name of Núñez surprised the world as one of the main options of the French cast to fill the gap if their mega star emigrated to Real Madrid, a fact that did not happen in the end. The sheikhs who own PSG were evaluating paying up to 120 million for his scoring ability.
But finally it was Liverpool that stepped on the accelerator to speed up the negotiations , although in the last few hours it gave greater speed to a deal that will be historic for its finances due to the rumor that Manchester United was willing to pay 100 million to tempt the Uruguayan.
Leo Ramos, DT who made him debut as a professional, compared his qualities with those of the historical Luis Suárez and Edinson Cavani : “He has a style similar to Cavani’s, but it seems to me that Darwin is faster and more powerful. He is much more explosive and aside from that explosiveness he obviously showed incredible goalscoring ability. He has two parts, he is half and half between Suárez and Cavani. He has the power that Suárez had to go for it all, to go to the clash and fight with the rival. And he also has the part of Cavani, of being a much more athletic player, more physical, more intelligent. I think he is a union of those two things.”
Núñez convinced the Reds board last April, when Liverpool and Benfica met for the quarterfinals of the Champions League. The Uruguayan was one of the most outstanding men and scored a goal in Lisbon and another in Anfield (the aggregate was 6-4 in favor of the English). In addition to those goals, he was the one who gave the Portuguese classification against Ajax in the Netherlands in the round of 16 of the Champions League and also scored against Barcelona (double) and Bayern Munich in the group stage.
Jürgen Klopp himself, coach of the Premier League team, had acknowledged at the time that Núñez was in his plans after facing Benfica: “He is their most dangerous man, he is a good striker, a top player. Before us he fought tough battles with Ibrahima Konaté and he proved to be physically very strong, but he is also quick and calm when it comes to finishing ”.
That kid who did not escape the history of effort that most South American soccer players carry was then in the great marquees of the planet. An award for the hours that her mother Silvia used to walk the streets to collect bottles in order to put a plate of food on the family table. A pampering for her father From Ella Bibiano who worked hours and hours as a bricklayer to pay for some booties. “I don’t forget where I come from. A humble, hard-working family. My father worked in construction and when he didn’t have shoes, he would try to find me something and buy me some so I could play soccer. He had to work eight or nine hours to buy me things and give us what to eat.My mother was always a housewife and went out to the streets to collect bottles to sell , ”he told the Uruguayan media Referí in 2019.
He was about to leave the sport in the inferiors when his brother Junior – who came to be one step away from Peñarol’s first team – had to leave football due to family problems. Darwin was also going to return to his hometown, but a phrase from his older brother marked him: “You stay, you have a future . “
Although he took firm steps, Darwin had a meteoric growth. Between November 2017 – when he made his debut against River Plate of Uruguay – and the end of 2019, he accumulated less than 25 games with the Peñarol shirt, which were enough to convince Almería of Spain to pay four and a half million euros for him. In between, he had had to overcome two knee operations (cruciate ligaments and patella) when he was just starting out as a professional, which put him in check.
He stepped strong in the Spanish Second Division: he shouted 16 goals in 32 presentations , although his team was in the semifinals and did not reach promotion. His future absolutely brightened during this dream season, in which he also made his debut for his country’s senior team in a friendly against Peru as a viable alternative to the star figures of Suarez and Cavani.
The Portuguese Benfica smelled a true diamond in the rough after seeing it in its first European experience and put 24 million on the table to add it to its ranks. Although he scored 6 goals in 29 league games in his first season, he put down firm roots already in his second year in Portuguese territory to push his team to the quarterfinals of the Champions League and establish himself as the top scorer in the Portuguese tournament with 26 touchdowns in 28 games. High impact figures.
Liverpool did not hesitate. He saw in him a rising scorer. He did not shake his pulse to be one step away from making the most expensive signing in his entire history. If the English club finally transfers the 100 million, Peñarol and Almería will celebrate as they will have a juicy extra income thanks to previous agreements in each Darwin transfer. And the little boy from Artigas, who will just turn 23 in two weeks, will already be part of the great history of his country because it will become the highest transaction for a Uruguayan soccer player , surpassing the more than 80 million that Barcelona paid for Luis Suárez in 2014 and the 64 million that PSG invested for Edinson Cavani in 2013.
Although the rumors about his landing in the Premier League had been simmering in recent weeks, everything intensified in recent hours when it became known that the Celeste coach , Diego Alonso, had an attack without Darwin – made up of by Fernando Pellistri, Giorgian de Arrascaeta and Edinson Cavani– to face the friendly match against the Panamanians ahead of the 2022 Qatar World Cup, where Núñez will surely have a place among those summoned. The official information tried to divert attention by claiming that he was on the “health” list, although everything indicates that he was taken care of because in the next few hours he will board the plane to England.