Liverpool are close to agreeing a deal worth up to €100m for Benfica striker Darwin Nunez.
The Premier League club will initially pay €75m plus €25m in potential surcharges.
If the deal is agreed on Sunday as expected, the Uruguay international’s medical will begin on Monday.
The player wants to join Liverpool and is ready to sign a five-year contract.
Liverpool director of football Julian Ward is in Portugal to try and complete the transfer, with negotiations focusing on the structure of the deal.
Nunez scored 34 goals for Benfica in all competitions last season, including goals in both games of the club’s Champions League quarter-final defeat by Liverpool in April.
Liverpool are unwilling to enter a bidding war for their number one transfer target and Manchester United are admiring the 22-year-old despite doubts about Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah’s future.
Mane is wanted by German champions Bayern Munich after the Senegalese striker refused to sign for Liverpool beyond next season.
The 30-year-old has one year left on his contract and joked that the majority of people in Senegal want him to leave Anfield.
Salah also has a year left on his Liverpool contract but announced ahead of last month’s Champions League final defeat by Real Madrid that he will remain at Merseyside for at least one more season.
The view from Portugal: How good is Darwin Nunez?
Portuguese football expert Pedro Sepulveda speaks to Sky Sports News:
“Darwin Nunez was by far one of the best players this season in the Portuguese league. The other was Luis Diaz who joined Liverpool in January and that made Nunez the absolute best player.
“Benfica finished the season in third place and didn’t manage to get straight into the Champions League, but in 41 games Nunez scored 34 goals and recorded four assists – so you’re talking about one of the best strikers.
“He’s a ‘modern football forward’ – like Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe – forwards who don’t just focus on scoring goals. They focus on playing for the team and making sure the whole team is playing well in the 100m.
“The biggest flaw – or less good point – about Nunez is his psychological play. He hasn’t scored many goals in the 2020/21 season. He has played 44 games and scored only 14. He got a little criticism from the fans and the first thing he did was ban his social media, blocking people and not reading the comments. This proves that he doesn’t handle critics well when things start going badly. And in England, if he doesn’t start scoring goals, the price is the first thing people will talk about.
“When you talk about a player like Darwin Nunez, think of a typical number nine playing in the box. But he can easily play wide to break spaces for other players in the central areas when teams need him. It’s a very good deal for Liverpool who have already capitalized on the Portuguese league with Luis Diaz in a massive transfer for Liverpool that the winger fully deserved.
“In the hands of Jurgen Klopp, Darwin can be among the top strikers in the world. Nowadays he’s not among the top strikers because he doesn’t play in the top five leagues. We have to see how he fares in the Premier League evolved.” it’s one of the best leagues in the world.”
The Making of Darwin Nunez
Meet Darwin Nunez, the Uruguayan striker facing a major move from Benfica – and his former coaches are backing him to play in the Premier League.
Sky Sports feature writer Adam Bate speaks to those who have followed his journey from the start to find out more.
What positions are Liverpool aiming for this summer?
Sky Sports News reporter Vinny O’Connor:
Liverpool will look to strengthen their forward line this season. The fact that they even spoke to Kylian Mbappe shows how determined they are to keep bringing quality up.
It makes sense for Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino to enter the final year of their contracts, while the potential departures of Sadio Mane, who also has one year left on his contract, and Divock Origi, who has already decided to switch, Reinforcement in this area earns priority. If Mane is to leave, Liverpool will only try to make deals for a fee above the stated €30m and they want a replacement sorted before allowing him to leave.
With Fabio Carvalho set to officially start his Liverpool career on July 1, any further midfield makeover could depend on the future of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Takumi Minamino. Oxlade-Chamberlain made 29 appearances in a 63-game season and has not played since the FA Cup win over Forest in March, while Minamino made just 24 appearances and could both be looking for regular first-team opportunities. Oxlade-Chamberlain is another player with just one year left on his contract.
Strengthening the defense doesn’t appear to be a priority as Ibrahima Konate offers another option for Joel Matip and Virgil van Dijk, while Joe Gomez can cover right-back and centre-back.
Follow the summer transfer window with Sky Sports
Who will be on the road this summer when the transfer window opens? June 10th and closes 11pm on September 1st?
Stay up to date with the latest transfer news and rumors on our dedicated Transfer Center blog Sky Sports’ digital platforms. You can also read up on the ins, outs and analysis Sky sports news.