Twelve months ago, Darwin Nunez was a relatively unknown player. Today he is one of the hottest strikers in the market and in demand by some of the biggest teams in Europe. The Uruguayan’s Champions League performances have garnered the most attention. Nunez scored against Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Ajax and Liverpool as Benfica reached the quarter-finals of this year’s competition. As of writing, Liverpool seem to have made the first bid at 100 million euros. With that in mind, let us take a look at what Darwin Nunez would bring to Liverpool.
Nunez made 10 appearances for Benfica in the UEFA Champions League season just gone by, totalling 614 minutes in the process. The Uruguayan striker scored six times, which included goals in the group stages, Round of 16, as well as in the quarter-finals. Nunez scored at a rate of 0.82 goals per 90, which ranked him in the top 7% of strikers. He vastly outperformed his xG per 90 of 0.36. The Uruguayan hitman may have taken only 2.04 shot attempts per 90 but 46.67% of his shot attempts tested the opposition keepers. Nunez also ranks in the upper quintile for touches in the opposition’s penalty area with 5.17 per 90. He has also attempted 6.4 dribbles per 90 with a respectable success rate of over 68%.
Nunez’s shot map is shown above. Nunez seldom missed big goalscoring opportunities. The Uruguayan hitman took 16 shots and netted six goals, meaning he needed only 2.67 shot attempts to score a goal. Nunez took only five shots outside the box, which showed his ability to get closer to the goal and in good positions.
Nunez was a direct danger to opponents’ defences in the UEFA Champions League, completing over four dribbles per 90, as shown in the heat map above. He also made a total of 15 carries into the penalty area. In the Champions League, the Uruguayan received 44 progressive passes, making him a prime option for starting attacks in the final third. He could make an effective combination with Luis Diaz, operating predominantly in the middle and occasionally moving to the left. Nunez has been involved in a goal every 102 minutes in the UCL.
Darwin Nunez has been involved in a goal more frequently than Sadio Mane, Diogo Jota and Luis Diaz. So, there is a high likelihood that he would be an automatic starter at Anfield, especially given that Mane has been linked with a move to Bayern Munich, and Salah has not yet signed a contract extension. However, at €100 million, the risk may be a little too much, given that nearly every transfer over this mark has been a mixed bag at best and a disaster at worst.