Editor's note - This article was originally published in April ahead of Benfica's clash with Liverpool in the Champions League.
Liverpool have reportedly agreed a deal to sign Benfica forward Darwin Nunez for £68m.
It's a big move which would go some way to easing the hurt of their Champions League final defeat, as well as the expected departure of Sadio Mane this summer.
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But why have the Reds moved so fast to snap up Nunez?
To answer that question, let's take you back to April when we pored over Nunez's matches and got in touch with some old friends - Tom Kundert, founder of Portugoal, as well as Aaron Barton who created Proxima Jornada.
Their thoughts on Nunez were fascinating. Make sure to give them a follow on Twitter for all your Portuguese football needs.

Big, quick and strong

Let's start with Nunez's strengths. The first thing you’re going to notice when you put on some tape of Nunez is the sheer size of the lad. He’s listed at around 6'2" but he is one of those players who just 'feels' bigger than he officially is. It’s not just that he’s big either, Nunez is quick - deceptively quick. Not only is he quick at top speed but he is also surprisingly quick from the go, and that can often leave opposing defenders in his wake as they simply don’t expect it.
“He’s a real handful,” agrees Kundert. “Big, busy, energetic forward, with a fantastic burst of acceleration, good technical ability, can play across the front line.
“He's usually pretty central but also works the wings well, has provided several assists by driving diagonally towards goal from wide positions then crossing or cutting the ball back.
“Decent in the air, and an ice-cool penalty taker. You could say he's a little bit of an Mbappe-lite - although obviously a long way off that absolute elite level.”
Barton adds “he's not like a typical penalty-box forward striker like a six-yard-box striker. He will try and do that but also go out wide and try to play quick one-twos whether that be with players in the centre or his full-back and try and get round the outside so he can put a cross in.”
Barton believes that the goal Nunez scored against Barcelona in the Champions League group stage is the perfect example of what the Uruguayan’s game is all about. In the clip you can see below, Nunez peels off the shoulders of the defender onto a ball over the top and chase it into the wide corner. He then pulls it back, cuts inside and fires home at the near post.
When you watch some of the goals he’s scored it’s hard not to feel that he is trying to break the ball in two he hits it with so much force.
“Sometimes I say about his power, that his shooting style is actually very similar to him as a player,” explains Barton. “Like everything that he does, it is very powerful, it's very directed, he will tend to try and rifle it into the top corner rather than, you know, try and be a bit cuter.
“He will always try and rocket it in.
“I think that just epitomises him as a player. He’s big, he’s strong, and he’s powerful. His shooting is exactly like that, and, crucially, it’s gotten better since he moved to Portugal.”

Still work to do

Look, before we get carried away, this is not Erling Haaland 2.0. Nunez still has work to do. Some of the clips you watch will have you screaming at your laptop as he ignores better options to try and keep a dribble going or try and get a shot off.
“Ideally, I think another season in Portugal would do him good to really become the main man at the club and fine-tune his finishing,” says Kundert.
Nunez had a bit of a rough time in the 2020-21 season as he suffered with both injuries and Covid-19. The 2021-22 season has been a fine return to form but there isn’t the biggest body of work for teams who want to sign him.

LISBON, PORTUGAL - FEBRUARY 12: Darwin Nunez of SL Benfica celebrates after scoring a goal during the Liga Bwin match between SL Benfica and CD Santa Clara at Estadio da Luz on February 12, 2022 in Lisbon, Portugal. (Photo by Gualter Fatia/Getty Images)

Image credit: Getty Images

“There's quite a big section of the supporters that still aren't convinced by Nunez,” says Barton. “I’ve seen it from friends who are supporters and on social media as well. I think there’s a feeling that if they can get a lot of money for him they should go for it. They've got someone like Goncalo Ramos there, who's an exciting, young Portuguese forward, current U21 international.”
Barton points out that Nunez’s record in the big games isn’t the best. He hasn’t scored against either Porto or Sporting CP even though he has done very well in Europe.
“He often shoots when he should pass and passes when he should shoot. He's a bit rushed when he gets close to goal,” adds Kundert.
No one ever knows how a new signing will perform but if Nunez follows Luis Diaz's trajectory - who also joined from a Portuguese side (Porto) this year - the Uruguayan's early months at Anfield next season will be fun to watch.
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