Liverpool and Manchester United are both reportedly interested in signing prolific Uruguay international Darwin Nunez from Benfica in an £85million transfer this summer
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Virgil van Dijk has named Liverpool target Darwin Nunez as one of his toughest opponents.
The Reds are reportedly interested in signing the Benfica striker, 22, after a stellar term. He scored 34 goals and provided four assists in 41 appearances for the Portuguese giants this season, helping them reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
Benfica were dumped out of Europe by Liverpool, but Nunez scored in both legs. His strike at the Estadio da Luz was a classic poacher’s finish – taking advantage of a defensive mistake – while his goal at Anfield showed his ability to get in behind the back line.
It’s believed those performances have persuaded Jurgen Klopp’s side to take an interest in Nunez. Benfica have slapped an £85million price tag on 11-cap Uruguay international, who is rated at £49.5m by Transfermarkt and has three years left on his existing deal.
Nunez received a glittering reference from Liverpool defender Van Dijk ahead of their Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid in May. When asked to name his toughest opponents, the Dutchman picked five top strikers – including Nunez.
Van Dijk’s list also included Sergio Aguero, Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland. When discussing Nunez, the centre-back said: “He’s a bit similar [to Haaland] – very direct, quick, tall, strong and it’s quite difficult to play against him.”
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Liverpool are in danger of losing two talismanic forwards this summer. Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane both have just one year remaining on their existing deals. The latter is the most likely to leave, with Bayern Munich making a £30m offer.
Manchester United are also thought to be interested in Nunez, although it’s believed he’s hesitant to join them due to their lack of Champions League football. The Red Devils will compete in the Europa League next season after finishing sixth in the Premier League.
Mirror Football columnist Stan Collymore has backed Nunez to join Liverpool ahead of United. “Darwin Nunez scores goals and creates bother for defenders, so I’m very excited that Liverpool are in for him as well as Manchester United,” said Collymore.
“Liverpool have to make the odd marquee signing as well to fire shots across the bows of the other big clubs in the Premier League, and signing Nunez for £68m would be one of those. You’re starting to get into Virgil van Dijk price-tag territory, near-club-record money.”
Collymore went on to say: “And if it’s a choice between Liverpool and United at the moment then it’s a no-brainer to go to Liverpool. At one club, he’d be in with a chance of winning trophies immediately, whereas going to the other would be a punt.
“Let’s say he did think about going to United. I mean, there are no guarantees that, under Erik ten Hag, the Ajax school will be transferable. Certainly not with the febrile, bubbling pressure the supporter base is putting on the players and the Glazers.”