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Why Liverpool are looking to spend big on Darwin Nunez

Posted on June 10, 2022

Was it the success of Luis Diaz that ultimately convinced Liverpool to peruse the Portuguese market in pursuit of reinforcements this summer? Who is to say, but considering the doubts over Sadio Mane's future and the need for investment at Anfield, the Reds are set to return to Liga Bwin. Diaz made a seamless switch from Portuguese to English football, slotting into this Liverpool setup with considerable ease. Many expected the Colombian would need some time to get up to speed with the rigours of Premier League football, yet the winger immediately looked a seasoned pro in Jurgen Klopp's system.

Such was Diaz's impact on the left, that Klopp elected to move Mane into a more central position, a role he took up with ease, however with the Senegal forward set to leave Anfield for Bayern Munich before the close of the summer window, the Premier League runners' up are aware they need to strengthen on the frontline, and this was before Mane's desire to depart for Germany.

Roberto Firmino turns 31 in October, while Mohamed Salah will be 30 this time next week. Both are out of contract next summer, and coupled with Divock Origi's departure, Mane's decision to swap the Premier League for the Bundesliga only accelerated plans for the Reds in the off-season.

There has been a youth player drive with Ben Doak and Fabio Carvalho expected to be joined by Calvin Ramsay at Anfield this summer, yet the priority now must be bolstering the frontline. And after the success of Diaz, Darwin Nunez may be joining his former Liga Bwin counterpart on Merseyside.

The Uruguayan has become a man in demand following a stunning season for Benfica that saw him hit the back of the net more times (26) than any other player in the division. That goal haul saw Nunez return a WhoScored rating of 7.62; only Diaz (7.90) earned better in Liga Bwin.

While perhaps not as hard working off the ball as Diaz, Nunez makes up for it with the prolificacy to his game that has seen his stock soar in recent months. Indeed, of the 99 players to muster 25 or more shots in Liga Bwin last season, Nunez had a better conversion rate (30.6%) than any other player. Present the chances for the 22-year-old, and he'll regularly tuck them away to reinforce a statistically calculated WhoScored strength of 'finishing'.

Liverpool had no issues creating chances last season as only Manchester City (14.2) made more key passes per Premier League game than Klopp's side (13.9), so a striker of Nunez's calibre should thrive on Merseyside. On top of that, Liverpool ranked top for clear-cut chances created (97), and had the best clear-cut conversion rate (55.3%) in England's top tier last term.

When considering 21 of Nunez's 26 league goals were deemed to be clear-cut chances, four of which, admittedly, were penalties, the Uruguay international, like Diaz, has the potential to make the jump from Liga Bwin to the Premier League with ease. Crucially still is that Nunez isn't just an out-and-out striker. Yes, his numbers in front of goal are impressive, but there is more to his game than just getting on the end of opportunities presented to him by teammates.

Able to play out wide, Nunez is a striker who will drift to the flanks to offer another attacking outlet. While this may clog up space on the left or right, on the contrary, Diaz and Salah should benefit from this approach. The pair look to cut in off the left and right flank, respectively, in their quest for goal and a versatile frontman of Nunez's ilk will play to their attacking strengths.

As such, Liverpool are essentially killing two birds with one stone. The departure of Origi and expected exit of Mane could leave the Reds short of forward options, but Nunez has the ability to cover the two main roles of the duo without it impacting his output. Benfica will demand a huge fee for their star man, yet with Liverpool looking to revamp their forward line, the Portuguese side are aware the Reds are prepared to spend big on Nunez.

Considering his age and scope for development, however, it would be money well spent by Liverpool if they are, as expected, to win the race for Nunez. The young striker scored a delightful equaliser in Benfica's 3-3 Champions League draw with the Reds back in April. That goal could prove to be the first of many at Anfield for Nunez.