It is there, the jackpot of the transfer window. Against a nice check for one hundred million euros (75 plus bonus), Liverpool offered the services of Darwin Núñez, courted by the greatest in Europe following his excellent season under the colors of Benfica. And if everything suggests that the “new Cavani” can become a giant of the red Mersey club, all is not yet perfect. Does he have the shoulders to assume this new status? Decryption.
—Liverpool FC (@LFC) June 14, 2022
Kisses from Lisbon
In the summer of 2020, as the summer transfer window began to stir, a rumor caused the entire Portuguese press to jump: Edinson Cavani, free to commit where he wishes after having played seven seasons under the colors of PSG, would be close to joining Benfica. Record, Oh Jogo and In Bolathe country’s three sports media outlets, agree thatThe Matador would have accepted the offer made by the red team. The soap opera ignites, but ends on August 23. Unable to match Cavani’s salary demands, Benfica put an end to the discussions and decided to put the package on another file to quickly forget the failure of the greatest scorer in the history of PSG. This is how Darwin Núñez set foot in the Estádio da Luz. Same profile, same face, same position, same passport, the 1.87m striker, relatively unknown to the general public and then resident of Almería (Spanish D2) drops his bags at Benfica for 39 million euros, thus becoming the most expensive recruit of the Lisbon club. This bet will bear fruit: fourteen goals, twelve assists in all competitions for his first season. Darwin Núñez delights in the 4-4-2 of Jorge Jesus, and forms with Luca Waldschmidt a fruitful pair. In the penultimate gesture, the Uruguayan striker often plays with his physique to make the difference and serve the German striker in excellent conditions. The Portuguese elite discovers a complete striker who at the same time takes advantage of the Europa League to familiarize himself with European games. With a junkyard mindset, Núñez also stands out for his effort and numerous defensive runs. And if the adaptation season is a success, no one imagined such an explosion for his second exercise.
confirmation? Just progress? Little state of grace? This last year under the colors of Benfica is perhaps all that at once. This Darwin Núñez vintage 2021-2022 is first of all a player who had to do without his German sidekick, who left to join Wolfsburg. Installed at the forefront of the attack in a 3-4-3 at the end of the Jorge Jesus era, then in the 4-2-3-1 of Nélson Veríssimo from December, the “new Cavani” becomes the real weapon of the Eagles and completes a season with 34 goals including 6 in the Champions League against Barça, Liverpool, Ajax and Bayern Munich, making him the top scorer in the history of Benfica during the same big-eared cup campaign. Broader shoulders, always more clinical in the danger zone, the goleador everyone agrees by scoring an average of 0.88 goals per game. So many boxes checked that push Liverpool to checkout. It’s official since Tuesday, the Uruguayan has signed up until 2028 with the Reds and will wear, for the record, the number 27 of Divock Origi.
—Liverpool FC (@LFC) June 14, 2022
If the gentleman who will celebrate his 23rd birthday on June 24th undeniably has qualities, it is however necessary to say that everything will not necessarily flow from source. By becoming the second biggest sale in Portuguese football (behind the 120 million euros recovered by Benfica during the transfer of João Felix to Atlético in 2019) and the second biggest purchase of Liverpool (in the rear view mirror of 85 million collected in 2017 by Southampton), Darwin Núñez obviously arrives with a lot of pressure in his suitcases. At a time when Jürgen Klopp’s team seems to be experiencing a small earthquake with the possible departures of Sadio Mané, Roberto Firmino, and even Mohamed Salah in the coming weeks, the Uruguayan will have the difficult mission of quickly making this trio forget legendary. “I have no more pressure than when I arrived at Benfica” , insisted on confiding the “new Cavani” during his presentation interview on the Liverpool site. In the second blade, Klopp also wanted to reassure the new link in his machine. “It’s a long-term project, and it’s important that everyone knows that.launched the German with a big smile. We have very good attacking options, so Darwin has no extra pressure, he signed for the very long term. »
Yes, it is important to protect your players. Yes, even the older ones often need a year of adaptation to acclimatize to a new environment. But it is impossible for Darwin not to have in the back of his mind the rapid and stunning integration of his new teammate Luis Diaz, who arrived on the banks of the Mersey from Porto during the last winter transfer window. Of the same ilk, Rúben Dias had also proved that we could disembark from Benfica and quickly settle the worries of a big English club, by flying to the rescue of the hinge of Manchester City. In the same vein, Bruno Fernandes, who arrived straight from Sporting in the winter of 2020, carried a sick Manchester United at arm’s length. The Uruguayan seems well enough equipped to take the same path. In fact, in Portugal, the only time he was heckled, he managed to get up quietly. After a defeat of Benfica in the final of the League Cup against Sporting on January 29 (1-2) in which Núñez had not taken part – gathering with the Uruguayan selection within the framework of the qualifications for the World Cup obliges – , SLB supporters attacked their attacker who immediately blocked his social networks. This wave of criticism did not prevent him from finding the net after only 30 minutes of play on his return from South America. It seems a long time ago when, then 17 years old, the teenager had thought of stopping his career after an injury to the cruciate ligaments. Because finishing on a piece of black bread in Peñarol was out of the question, this gluttonous Darwin Nuñez decided never to stop eating. Virgil van Dijk was right to reserve a napkin ring for him.
By Matthew Darbas