Manchester United, Arsenal and the many other suitors of Uruguayan striker Darwin Nunez have been informed by Benfica manager Nelson Verissimo that any deal for the South American should cost as much as the £113 million ($147m) transfer that took Joao Felix to Atletico Madrid in 2019.
Leading sides from across Europe, including many from the Premier League, are reportedly readying summer raids on Estadio da Luz for a frontman that has netted 31 times in all competitions this season.
At just 22 years of age, Nunez is being targeted as a shrewd addition for the present and future, with his star very much on the rise, but his current employers in Portugal are eager to point out that he will not come cheap and that there is no guarantee of a sale being sanctioned in 2022.
What has been said?
Verissimo has told reporters when asked whether Nunez, who continues to be scouted by striker-needy sides from England, could generate a fee similar to former Benfica forward Felix: “What do you think? Darwin is an excellent player, he has shown all his quality. He has helped the team a lot, it is true that the team has also helped him a lot.
“He is a young player with a lot of potential, it is natural that given what has been his growth throughout this season and also a lot as a result of the performance he has had in the Champions League games, it is natural that he arouses the interest of the big European clubs.
“It will be at the end of this season or the following season, depending on what he has shown, it is natural that it will arouse interest from other clubs and naturally there may be the time in which he goes. Now regarding numbers, I hope as a Benfica fan that he will go for numbers close to those that were Joao Felix's numbers. Now it's not for me to enter numbers on that field.
“In what is my day to day with the player, in what is given to us to observe in training and in the games, naturally we are looking at a top player and all the top players arouse the interest of the big European clubs. Darwin is on that list, obviously.”
The bigger picture
Nunez joined Benfica from Spanish side Almeria in September 2020 and has hit 45 goals for the club through 80 appearances – including a hat-trick on his most recent outing against Belenenses and a Champions League effort in the first leg of a quarter-final clash with Liverpool.
He is fully aware of the interest that he is generating and recently revealed that he will be leaving the Equipo TMA agency that he has been working with so far.
It is reported that the Uruguay international is set to link up with so-called ‘super agent’ Jorge Mendes, who already counts Atletico star Felix and five-time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo among his clients.