Liverpool have completed their latest big-money signing, bringing in Darwin Nuñez from Benfica as they prepare to move into a new era without their fabled attacking trident of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.
This signing follows those of Luis Diaz and Fabio Carvalho in 2022 and Jürgen Klopp will be looking forward to unleashing these talents on the Premier League and Europe next season.
Nuñez has only been in the spotlight for a season but the money paid for his transfer by a club like Liverpool who do not do big-money transfers show that they see something that many others do not.
So why did the six-time UEFA Champions League winners pay a club record fee of £85 million to Benfica for the Uruguayan striker?
Darwin Nuñez: The numbers
The answer begins with the data set of the former UD Almeria striker.
The elite striker pool is currently shallow and as a result, the ones available are either pretty expensive or already spoken for. So when a club in need of a striker finds one who can score 30 goals a season, it makes sense that they go after him in today’s market.
Nuñez started off slowly at Almeria and then at Benfica. At both clubs, however, he hit double figures for goals. It was in his second season in Portugal he showed great improvement to score more than double his past tallies.
He finished the season with an average of one goal every 81 minutes to score 34 goals in 41 games. Klopp – or anyone – will be hard pressed to find many strikers like this in the market.
Fits like a glove
At 22, the Uruguayan has plenty of room for improvement and his skill set fits into Klopp’s philosophy.
Nuñez is a modern forward who relies more on his movement than his ball carrying to break defences and set up goal-scoring opportunities for himself and his teammates. Klopp’s style rely heavily on movement from the wings and their new striker can open up spaces to receive the ball or draw defenders away for the wing players to find a shot at goal.
He is also very good in the air as he has shown with Benfica which provides them with more options as crosses are an integral part of their gameplay.
His link-up play is also greatly above average and this is largely due to his below average passing. A few training sessions under Klopp should see him get better at this because his movements are already up there with the best.
It is not expected that he will hit the ground running but it could also turn out to be a case like that of his former rival Luis Diaz, with whom he battled for the Primera Liga top scorer award before the Colombian moved to Liverpool in January.
However, double figures in goals and assists are expected and the following seasons should see him hit the kind of numbers that can win Liverpool titles, as this is what currently separates them from Manchester City.