Premier League • England

Liverpool get major ‘word of warning’, as Van Dijk, Matip told to expect shock from Benfica bully

Darwin Nunez, Haris Seferovic Benfica v Pacos de Fereira January 2022

Liverpool must be wary of stopping Benfica striker Darwin Nunez when the two sides meet in the Champions League, according to Micah Richards.

The Reds were the last team to come out of the hat in the quarter-final draw on Friday. And they therefore watched the likes of Premier League rivals Manchester City and Chelsea drawn before them.

As a result, Benfica vs Liverpool ended up as the last tie. On paper, three pundits reacting to the draw claimed that Jurgen Klopp’s side got one of the best draws, if not the best.

Liverpool will fancy their chances of their firepower getting them past Benfica. Indeed, Roberto Firmino netted at Arsenal on Wednesday to rediscover his form. Diogo Jota, Mohamed Salah, Luis Diaz and Sadio Mane are already on good runs.

However, Richards has warned Liverpool that Uruguay international Nunez will provide an equally dangerous threat to Liverpool defenders Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip.

“Liverpool fans will have been delighted at how the Champions League draw panned out but let me provide a word of warning,” Richards wrote in a Daily Mail column.

“Darwin Nunez has caught my eye all year and he came up trumps for Benfica once again, to send them into the last eight.

“Nunez scored his 26th goal of the season and is only 22. He is tall, strong, he runs in behind and knows how to finish.

“He’s scored against Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Ajax so far — don’t discount him doing the same against Liverpool.”

Indeed, Nunez scored the decisive goal in the last 16 tie with Ajax to help Benfica to progress.

Overall, he has reached his tally of 26 strikes in just 33 games. He is subsequently up there as one of the deadliest strikers in Europe this season.

Nunez’s performances for Benfica have attracted transfer attention from elsewhere on the continent, including the Premier League.

Darwin Nunez a transfer target

Darwin Nunez celebrating for Benfica

Newcastle had initial links in the January window as they sought a second striker signing alongside Chris Wood.

Since then, though, Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal, West Ham and Manchester City have had reported interest in Nunez.

Man Utd had scouts in attendance for Benfica’s second leg against Ajax in Amsterdam on Tuesday.

Darwin Nunez to join Newcastle in big transfer worth £70m

Darwin Nunez to join Newcastle in big transfer worth £70m

Newcastle United are to bid £70m for Darwin Nunez this summer as Benfica look to cash in on Uruguayan striker

They initially went to watch Ajax duo Ryan Gravenberch and Antony. However, after Nunez stole the headlines, the Red Devils have vowed to pay more attention to him in the future.

Meanwhile, Nunez is reportedly holding out for a move to Man City and has recently changed his agent. Benfica reportedly want €80million (£67million) for their star striker in the summer.