Liverpool have reached a verbal agreement to buy Darwin Núñez from Benfica and are preparing the paperwork to compete the deal. They will pay a guaranteed €80m (£68.3m) for the striker and up to another €20m in add-ons, meaning the Uruguayan could become their record signing.
Virgil van Dijk’s £75m fee is the biggest paid by Liverpool, who have acted decisively over Núñez in the face of interest from Manchester United. Núñez was the top scorer in Portugal in the 2021-22 season with 26 league goals and scored 34 in total, including two against Liverpool in the Champions League.
The 22-year-old is poised to sign a five-year deal and become the second South American bought by Jürgen Klopp inside of five months to refresh his attack. Luis Díaz arrived from another Portuguese club, Porto, for an initial €40m, rising to a possible €60m, and the Colombian has made an instant impact.
If the Núñez deal is wrapped up as expected, it will increase the likelihood of Sadio Mané getting his wish to join Bayern Munich. Liverpool have rejected two Bayern bids, the second worth up to £30m, but talks continue. Liverpool want more than £40m for Mané, who is 30 and has a year left on his contract.
Núñez has been at Benfica since September 2020 and has scored 48 goals from 85 appearances there. He was previously with Almería, who are due 20% of the profit Benfica make under the terms of his €24m move from the Spanish club, for whom he signed from Peñarol in his homeland.
Mohamed Salah, who turns 30 on Wednesday, has said he will stay at Liverpool for the final year of his contract. With Roberto Firmino already 30, the process of renewal being undertaken by Klopp in his forward line is clear. Diogo Jota and Díaz are 25 and Núñez would bring even greater youth.
Chelsea, meanwhile, are competing with Real Madrid to buy the goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina from Chicago Fire. Madrid had a bid for the 18-year-old rejected last week and Chelsea hope to secure a deal after being close to one in February.
Slonina is a USA Under-20 international and last month turned down a call-up from Poland, whom he is also eligible to represent. In August 2021 he became the youngest starting goalkeeper in MLS history when making his Chicago debut.