Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Darwin Nunez transfer news: Ten Hag counting on Benfica hotshot to lead Man Utd line in huge Ronaldo snub

Rob McCarthy
Darwin Nunez, Benfica, April 2022.

Incoming Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag is reportedly counting on Benfica star Darwin Nunez to lead the club’s attack next season, which seemingly spells trouble for Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Uruguay international has been in sensational form for the Portuguese giants this term, notching 34 goals in all competitions, and that has led to plenty of speculation over his future.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is known to be a big admirer of the 22-year-old. Indeed, the Reds got a first-hand glimpse of the striker when they faced Benfica in the Champions League quarter-finals, with Nunez actually scoring twice in the tie.

The prolific frontman will not come cheap, however, with Benfica wanting around £85million for his services.

That sort of fee would come close to smashing United’s transfer record. However, the fact that Nunez has scored more goals than Marcus Rashford, Edinson Cavani, Mason Greenwood and Anthony Martial combined this season seemingly makes him worth the money – in the current striker market.

The report from Record adds that Ten Hag views Nunez as the perfect No.9 in his new United side. However, that just adds to the doubts over Ronaldo’s Old Trafford future.

The Red Devils legend has been the shining light in a woeful campaign for United, scoring 24 times. But despite that rumours continue that he could be ousted when Ten Hag takes charge in the summer.

No bench role for Ronaldo

The 37-year-old still has a year remaining on his Old Trafford contract. However, it’s still unclear what sort of direction Ten Hag wants to go in with his attack next season.

Spending more than £80m on Nunez would likely relegate Ronaldo to a bench role, which he would not accept.

The other options are to play the Portuguese out wide or as a No.10. However, he doesn’t have the legs to chase back in those positions.

One man who thinks Nunez would be a big success in Manchester is former United star Diego Forlan.

The Uruguayan said of his compatriot recently: “I think that he is a very good player, a good kid who is doing really well at Benfica and is enjoying a strong season.

“It is not just the Portuguese league where he is doing well but in the Champions League too.

“He is a player who has a lot of potential and he could fit in at Manchester United.

“But obviously, everyone needs to have patience, although he is getting better with more and more experience.”

Nunez would be a Premier League sensation

Nunez has all the attributes to succeed as a Premier League striker at a top club, as Liverpool found out in the Champions League.

He has decent pace, is strong in the air and is a lethal finisher. They are all characteristics shared by Ronaldo, but Nunez is 15 years his junior and United could miss out of one of the best young strikers in world football if they let him slip through the net.

The fact that they are also set to miss out on Manchester City-bound Erling Haaland could make United twitchy and feel like they have to make a statement signing of their own.

And although Nunez is not quite at Haaland’s level yet, the feeling is that he’s not that far away.

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