Liverpool FC v SL Benfica Quarter Final Leg Two - UEFA Champions League


The hype around Darwin Nunez is entirely justified, he's set for a 'big career'

The hype surrounding Darwin Nunez right now is entirely justified. Liverpool supposedly want to sign the Benfica star.

Teams are reportedly lining up to sign Darwin Nunez. Liverpool are one of those, says The Times, but he’s unlikely to come cheap. CMJornal believe Benfica want around £80m for their player or they’ll simply keep him for next season.

That, of course, is a massive price tag but it’s in line with the hype around Nunez right now. And it’s a hype that seems entirely justified.

The Darwin Nunez hype

A lot of Nunez’s hype can be summed up in two stats: he scored 32 goals across the Primeira Liga and Champions League last season, and he doesn’t turn 23 until later this month. Any team in the world would want a player like that.

And you can see why Nunez is exciting simply by looking at him. The Uruguayan is tall, athletic, strong, and runs all the time. Again, it’s a basic profile that will fit into every side on the planet.

This is how Jurgen Klopp described him earlier this season after Liverpool played Benfica, per TalkSPORT:

“He was physically strong, quick, was calm around his finish. Good, really good. I always say in these situations if he is healthy, it’s a big career ahead of him.”

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The stats back all of that up. FBref doesn’t use data from Portugal but Nunez’s Champions League stats are very promising. For instance, he was the joint-seventh scorer in the competition this time around with six. Five players matched that mark but Nunez played fewer minutes than all of them.

In fact, of the 11 players to score six goals or more, only Christopher Nkunku played fewer minutes. Those goals came from 16 shots, too, meaning Nunez scored with 31% of his shots – only Sebastian Haller, Nkunku, and Robert Lewandowski boasted a better conversion rate while scoring as many goals.

Photo by James Gill – Danehouse/Getty Images

Nunez, then, knows how to score goals. He’s more than that, though, as the 22-year-old also just drives the ball forward so well – only eight other players carried the ball into the box as often across the Champions League campaign. Only two of them played fewer minutes.

And when that doesn’t work, Nunez will get wide and cross the ball into the box. His 2.5 crosses per 90 is right up there with the most of any forward – 97th percentile, in fact.

Nunez, then, scores goals, drives the ball forward, can cross the ball consistently, he recovers the ball five times per 90, he dribbles past players nearly twice per 90. It’s an all-around game from a young player that simply looks relentless.

It’s also exactly what Liverpool want. Nunez is a player who can attack in any and every way – the perfect player for a high-pressing style that wants to take advantage of defensive errors. He’ll get on the end of things, he’ll be the one to lead the counter, or he’ll be the one winning the ball back. No matter what you want, Nunez boasts the attributes to do it.

And when you add 32 goals to the mix, you have a special player. Nunez might cost a fortune this summer but Liverpool will struggle to find a more exciting player. He’s only going to get better and it already brilliant.

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