Yes, that’s a lot. But that’s normal. A lot because paying nearly 100 million euros (the 25 million bonus seems easily attainable) for Darwin Núñez, who came from Liga Sagres and still has limited international references, is excessive. But it makes sense. In 2022, this is the price to pay to get ahead of the competition (Manchester United, Atlético de Madrid) around a young center-forward who shone in C1 and exceeded 30 goals in all competitions this season.
While Manchester City pulled off a huge coup in luring Erling Haaland, Liverpool responded tit-for-tat with Núñez. The two are not equal, of course. But the Uruguayan finally sticks to the habits of the Reds: young, with a certain margin of progress, with the tactical profile validated by Jürgen Klopp, between offensive fulcrum and first stalker.
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The Reds scouts have also been following the kid’s performances since his first flashes at Peñarol in U19. Proof that in Liverpool, we continue to remain faithful to a line of conduct that has proven itself. And arguably makes the Reds the most impressive club on the market over the past decade.
There were a few screams after a mega transfer from Liverpool. Before Nunez, there was van Dijk. The profile was different, the certainties of the Reds similar. There was also Alisson (62.5M), Naby Keïta (60M), Luis Diaz (47M) or Fabinho (45M). Expensive choices at first but never dubious in the end. If men change, confidence in the methodology of recent years remains total.
Is Darwin Nunez worth all this madness?
Sacrosanct wage balance
Because Liverpool benefits from the lucrative Premier League, because it remains one of the richest clubs in the world ($4.1 billion according to Forbes in 2022), because the sporting project is clear and is already projected in 2026 with Klopp, the millions are easier to line up because they are easier to forget. So, even if it means overpaying Darwin Núñez a little to afford peace of mind, you might as well go there. Because more than the 100 million in transfer compensation, which reassured Liverpool, it is undoubtedly this annual salary of 7.3 million euros, still far from the bosses of the locker room.
There PSG offered the biggest salary in history to Kylian Mbappé, where City offers more than 24 million annually to Kevin de Bruyne, Liverpool remains an “exception”. Quotation marks are in order: the Reds pay salaries in line with the standards of the biggest European clubs. The specificity of Liverpool is that no head really sticks out.
The highest paid man in the locker room Jürgen Klopp? Virgil van Dijk at 13 million euros annually, followed by Mohamed Salah and Thiago Alcantara (12M). At City, none would appear in the Top 5 salary. At Manchester United either. Nor in Paris. Not at Real either. This is the strength of Liverpool. But that can be likened to a weakness when it comes to rewarding players who deserve better.
Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk during the Porto – Liverpool meeting in the Champions League
Credit: Getty Images
The Salah case will say a lot about the future
This is the case of Sadio Mané, who was undoubtedly pushed in his desire to leave by a neglected status with the Reds. Sportingly, in the media but also politically. He is only the 12th highest paid man in the locker room. At 30, after having proven so much, he deserved to be aligned with the figures of his friends. But, in Liverpool, we are reluctant to extend at great expense, especially for thirty-somethings. So it’s probably at Bayern Munich that the Senegalese will win what Liverpool couldn’t offer him. The Liverpool method is thus made. Cruel but relentless.
If the Mané case seems already resolved, and his departure already anticipated (his successor is already present, in the person of Luis Diaz), this is not yet the case for Mohamed Salah. The Egyptian looks like someone who can change everything: revolutionize everything or implode everything. At 30, his contract ends in 2023. The two parties have been talking for months now, without finding an agreement. If he has promised to stay in Liverpool next season, the possibility of seeing him leave free in 2023 is possible while seeming surreal for the one who embodies Klopp’s Reds.
Logically, the Egyptian claims to become one of the highest paid players in the Premier League. More importantly, he wants to stay at Liverpool. But nothing is simple in the equation, because it would upset the balance that the Mersey club has striven to build for years. Is he confident for the outcome of this case? “I do not knowhe explained to Four Four Two last April. I have one year left on my contract. I believe that the supporters know what I want but the contract is not only about money. But I don’t know, I can’t tell you exactly what it is“. A way to put pressure on his management. Who has only one certainty: his choice for Salah will define everything else for the years to come.
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