Who is Darwin Nunez? Liverpool's new €100m signing rejected by Barcelona
While many in Spain and Portugal knew all about Darwin Nunez long before this season, the Uruguayan striker burst onto the scene in European football when he played a starring role in Benfica’s 3-0 defeat of Barcelona in the Champions League earlier this campaign.
The young striker scored two goals on the night as the Portuguese giants claimed all three points against a truly disheartened Barca defence.
Nunez was a player that had been right under Barcelona’s nose for a number of years and was available to sign on a number of occasions, but the Blaugrana turned down the opportunity and may now regret doing so.
That is because Liverpool have beaten Premier League rivals Manchester United to the €100 million signing of Nunez - a deal that will see Benfica receive €75m plus €25m in add-ons.
Liverpool swooped after a sensational 2021-22 season, during which he scored 34 goals in 41 games in all competitions for Benfica.
The striker also scored in the Champions League last-16 win over Ajax, and again in both legs of their quarter-final tie against Liverpool.
Benfica suffered a 3-1 home defeat in the first leg, his goal was a simple finish following Ibrahima Konate's mistake. He calmly slotted the ball past Alisson to give Benfica a brief glimmer of hope.
In the second leg, Nunez scored the goal to earn Benfica a 3-3 draw on the night at Anfield - although Liverpool won 6-4 on aggregate.
Nunez thus finished the Champions League with an impressive six goals in 10 games this season.
What position does Darwin Nunez play in?
Nunez often plays as a central striker, though can feature in a wide forward role on the left, cutting inside.
How good is Darwin Nunez?
Nunez truly came into his own in the Spanish Segunda Division with Almeria, scoring 16 goals in 30 starts before earning his move to Benfica.
In 29 starts in all competitions for the Portuguese giants in 2020/21, he recorded 24 goal contributions via 14 scored himself plus an impressive 10 assists.
Nunez stepped up his goal-scoring in the past campaign with 38 goal contributions in all competitions.
He is just as capable of setting up a goal as he is at scoring them, and is very much in the mould of someone like Luis Suarez in that respect.
The comparisons with Suarez have indeed started already, though the fact they are both Uruguayan has something to do with that.
During Benfica's Europa League trip to Lech Poznan in 2020-21, he grabbed a fine hat-trick that epitomised his myriad of qualities.
His opening goal was a towering header from a cross, while his second was a sharp turn in the box that saw him beat his defender before finishing coolly. Finally, the third was a poacher’s finish from virtually on the line.
So, he could certainly be described as an all-rounder.
Following that starring performance against Poznan, Benfica head coach Jorge Jesus tipped the club to eventually sell Nunez for MORE than the €126 million they received for Joao Felix when he moved to Atletico Madrid.
“He was Benfica's most expensive purchase, and when there is no pandemic, he will be the most expensive sale. He will be a world-class player. We got it right,” said Jesus.
“We must not forget that he is a kid, he is 21 years old, there is a lot about the game that he does not know yet. He will learn with me and Benfica.”
Eventually, he went for a little less than Felix but still for a massive amount at €100m.
What clubs were interested in Darwin Nunez?
Even prior to the Benfica move, Barcelona were interested in Nunez and he was even scouted by director Roman Planes on a couple of occasions.
They would eventually be put off by the asking price, though, and although Barca still retained a strong interest, their financial situation meant they couldn't rival Liverpool this year.
In an interview, former Barca striker Luis Suarez revealed how he begged the Catalan club to sign Nunez prior to his move to Portugal, but was never able to convince the club into acting.
“I said to them: keep an eye on him. It is very good and shows interesting approaches,” said Suarez on the Twitch show GigantesFC.
“They said he was playing for Almeria and he was too young. I have 15 years of international experience, I know a thing or two about attackers.”
West Ham attempted to sign him in the 2022 January transfer window but their attempts were swiftly rejected by Benfica.
Man Utd viewed him as a long-term replacement for Cristiano Ronaldo, but hesitated in recent months - thus allowing Liverpool to do the deal.
When does Darwin Nunez's contract expire?
Nunez has agreed a contract with Liverpool until 2028.
How old is Darwin Nunez?
Nunez was born on 24 June 1999. He is 22.
What is Darwin Nunez's height?
Darwin Nunez is 6ft 1in tall.
What is Darwin Nunez's weight?
Nunez is around 78 kilograms.
What football boots does Darwin Nunez wear?
Nunez wears Nike Mercurial Superfly VIII Elite soccer cleats
What is Darwin Nunez's Instagram?
Nunez's Instagram has 653k followers as of June 2022.
Who is Darwin Nunez's girlfriend?
Nunez is in a relationship and has one child.