Meet Jurgen Klopp’s newest phenom, a 22-year-old Uruguayan striker who scored goals by the bushel at Portuguese titans Benfica.
Once ever-prolific soccer reporter Fabrizio Romano said those famous words — here we go — the deal became official for Benfica to send Uruguayan phenom Darwin Núñez to Liverpool on a permanent transfer.
The goal-scoring prodigy attracted the tactical eye of LFC manager Jurgen Klopp after a dazzling performance in the Champions League as part of a season that also saw him belie his 22 years of age by leading Portugal’s top-flight Primeira Liga, leading the league in goals in 2021-22.
Núñez will join the Reds for a transfer fee of just over $76 million, with the potential for the price to reach up above $100 million via performance-based incentives.
The 22-year-old Uruguayan forward joins an elite club that already features several of the very best players in the world — and arguably the game’s best manager. Let’s get to know the newest Anfield star, beginning with his wage, contract, and transfer fee particulars.
Darwin Núñez Contract & Transfer Details
Contract length: 6 years
Expected weekly wages: £140,000 (approx. $168,000)
Expected annual wages: £7,280,000 (approx. $8,725,000)
Free agency: 2028
Base transfer fee: £64,000,000 (approx. $76,700,000)
Maximum transfer fee: £85,000,000 (approx. $101,800,000)
Estimated market value: $60,500,000 (via Transfermarkt)
Early Career and Rise to Prominence
Núñez started the road to his professional career with 53-time Uruguayan champions Peñarol as a youth player, later joining the first team at age 17. Núñez soon faced multiple knee injuries during his time at the club, but managed 4 goals in 14 league games, leading to a transfer to Spanish second-division side Almería in 2020.
Thirty-two appearances and 16 goals later, Benfica made Núñez their club-record signing to the tune of a $25 million transfer fee. In Portugal, he’d score 47 goals in 84 games, including six in 10 Champions League contests and five in seven in the Europa League.
Núñez became one of the most sought-after young players in Europe, impressing the likes of international stars like countryman Luis Suarez.
“I have 15 years of international experience. I know a thing or two about forwards. And I told them, ‘pay attention to this one. He’s very good. He shows interesting things,'” Suarez said in an interview on Twitch.
The pair share a similar style of play, displaying a high soccer IQ with their movement and gamebreaking ability with a robust, laser-accurate right foot that can rocket balls into the top bin.
The Value Darwin Núñez Brings to Liverpool
What makes Núñez so valuable? Let’s dive into the statistics and compare him to some of Europe’s best strikers over the past season.
European Domestic League Goals Scored, 2021-22
- Robert Lewandowski: (Bayern Munich) 35
- Kylian Mbappé: (Paris Saint-Germain) 28
- Ciro Immobile: (Lazio) 27
- Karim Benzema: (Real Madrid) 27
- Darwin Núñez: (Benfica) 26
- Wissam Ben Yedder: (Monaco) 25
- Patrik Schick: (Leverkusen) 24
- Dušan Vlahović : (Juventus) 24
- Son Heung-min: (Tottenham Hotspur) 23
- Mohamed Salah: (Liverpool) 23
- Erling Haaland : (Dortmund) 22
The sheer number of goals that Núñez was able to net is impressive; those 26 tallies came in just 28 Primeira Liga games. Yet, it’s how he scores them that caught the attention of Liverpool — as Opta notes, he averaged more non-penalty goals per 90 minutes than any other player in Europe’s top six leagues in 2021-22 (an even 1.00). He also had the highest conversion rate of all players with 55+ non-penalty shots (27.2%).
How Darwin Núñez Fits into Liverpool’s Squad
With staggering offensive numbers like this, it’s easy to see why Klopp was excited to add Núñez to his already world-class squad. Specifically given the likely departure of lethal winger Sadio Mane to Bayern Munich and the possible departure of their No. 1 best player, Mohamed Salah, building a long-term future around young talents like Núñez, Luis Díaz, and Trent Alexander-Arnold is a must.
He’s a proven goal scorer who fits how Klopp wants to play: attacking football that sees forwards get chances at goal from crosses into the box. He can work within the 4-3-3, as well as the 4-2-3-1 formation that a loud group of Liverpool fans has begged for.
“Darwin, super news. I’m very grateful to everyone at the club for making it happen. We’ve shown decisiveness, and ambition,” Klopp said to members of the media when the deal was officially agreed. “We’ve wonderful attacking options. So there is no pressure on him at all. He signs for a very long time and we intend to nurture his talent”.