Liverpool have found common ground with Benfica to strike a club-record deal for Darwin Nunez, while a report has revealed the influence Jurgen Klopp and Virgil van Dijk had on the move.
The Reds had earmarked the Uruguayan hotshot, 22, as the primary target to bolster their forward line this summer. An agreement over personal terms and contract length had been reached, leaving just the transfer fee and intricacies including payment structure to be resolved with Benfica.
The two clubs were reportedly locked in negotiations after Reds chief Julian Ward personally flew out to Portugal.
Ward was conducting face-to-face meetings with Benfica’s hierarchy, and per Fabrizio Romano, his efforts have borne fruit.
The transfer guru gave the move his signature ‘here we go’ confirmation before confirming multiple aspects of the deal.
Darwin Nunez will sign a six-year contract running until 2028. He has reportedly flown to Spain with his agent and will travel to England on Monday to undergo a medical.
Romano claimed Liverpool will pay an €80m (£68m) fee plus €20m (£17m) in add-ons. If all the bonus targets are met, the total cost of the deal would rise to £85m – a new Liverpool transfer record.
Paul Joyce differs on the details
The Times echoed many of Romano’s claims, though did differ on some of the specifics.
Their article, written by the ever-reliable Paul Joyce, stated Liverpool expect to finalise the deal ‘today’ with Benfica receiving £64m initially.
£21.3m has been allocated for add-ons with £12.8m of that potentially linked to appearance targets. Appearance-based bonuses are what the Times claimed Benfica were seeking as they’re generally more of a guarantee to be met than team targets. Liverpool have seemingly relented to that demand.
The other £8.5m in add-ons will relate to team achievements.
Transfer expert Duncan Castles added his take, claiming the first £4m in add-ons will be paid after Darwin makes 10 appearances. The next £8m will be sent after the 60 appearance target is reached. Barring disaster, both those add-ons appear formalities on paper.
While Romano and the Times differed in the details, they both claim the final total could reach around £85m. Liverpool’s current record deal stands at the £75m they paid for Virgil van Dijk.
Regarding the Dutch defender, the Times added both he and Jurgen Klopp played a pivotal role in getting the ball rolling.
The pair both reportedly held ‘direct conversations’ with Darwin during the Champions League quarter-final clash with Benfica in April.
Darwin scored a goal in each leg of the tie and Van Dijk was reportedly highly impressed by the level of centre-forward play the Uruguayan produced. Indeed, he is said to have told Reds decision-makers Darwin was one of the most difficult striker’s he’s faced.
Klopp, meanwhile, is reportedly considered “the best coach in the world” by Darwin.
Darwin Nunez coup could accelerate key exit
With Darwin now seemingly on the way to Anfield, Sadio Mane’s future will quickly come under the microscope.
Bayern Munich have already seen two bids knocked back for the Senegalese. The latest totalled £30m, though Liverpool – who are holding out for £42.5m – were irked by the fact around £9m of it related to scarcely attainable add-ons.
Bayern are expected to come back in with a third bid and should it be closer to Liverpool’s valuation, they may now be more willing to sell.
Mane has made clear his desire to seek a new challenge behind the scenes. Luis Diaz will make the left wing role his own with Darwin taking the centre-forward spot.
If Bayern come close to Liverpool’s demands, and with reinforcements on the way, there is little sense in keeping Mane around if his heart is already in Munich.