Liverpool have smashed their transfer record after finally announcing the £85million signing of Benfica forward Darwin Nunez.
The 22-year-old Uruguayan international has sealed a move to Anfield after the Reds paid an initial fee of £64m up front.
His fee could rise as high as £85m, which would eclipse by £10m the sum they paid Southampton for centre-back Virgil van Dijk in January 2018.
However, for that to happen Nunez will have to meet every condition – ranging from goalscoring targets to winning the Champions League – set out in the deal.
Liverpool expect the eventual cost to be at least £75m providing Nunez plays regularly under Jurgen Klopp.
Nunez, who has been handed the No 27 shirt, has agreed to a six-year deal on £140,000-a-week at Anfield and passed a medical on Merseyside on Tuesday.
Eagle-eyed cameras caught Nunez being driven into Liverpool’s AXA Training Centre shortly before 10am on Tuesday as he completed the final formalities of the deal.
Liverpool have smashed their transfer record after sealing the £85m signing of Darwin Nunez
The 22-year-old Uruguay striker has joined the Reds in a deal that includes a £64m fee up front
Nunez, who has been given the No 27 shirt, has agreed to a six-year deal on £140,000-a-week
Nunez said he was ‘delighted to be here at Liverpool’ and called the Reds ‘a massive club’
‘I’m really happy and delighted to be here at Liverpool. It’s a massive club,’ Nunez told the club’s official website.
‘I’d like to thank my partner and my parents and my son, who is a real source of pride for me. They’ve been really important to me in the stages in my career. I’m really proud of them, and for the work we do, me and my partner, as a team and I’m grateful to her that I’m here.
‘It’s a pleasure to be here in Liverpool and I’m very happy to be a part of this great club.
‘I’ve played against Liverpool and I’ve seen them in lots of games in the Champions League, and it’s my style of play. There are some great players here and I think it’s going to suit my style of play here.
‘As I say, I’ve watched quite a lot and it’s a very big club and I hope I can give everything that I’ve got in order to help the team.’
Nunez has been in-demand all summer with Manchester United and Atletico Madrid both keen
The 22-year-old Uruguay international joins an extremely talented attack under Jurgen Klopp
He added: ‘When I arrived at the training ground, I was really surprised to see the set-up and the structure and all the trophies here.
‘You can then imagine yourself winning more trophies and then later on when you come here again and see the trophies on display, you can say, “Look, I was a part of that, I was there at that time, winning trophies”.
‘That’s one of the reasons why I came here to Liverpool – to win trophies and titles. I want to win a lot of trophies at Liverpool.’
Nunez’s signing is a departure from the multi-functional player Liverpool usually target but Klopp and his coaching staff are convinced they can evolve the team to play to his strengths.
His lack of English is also not a concern as both assistant manager Pep Lijnders and development coach Vitor Matos speak Portuguese, as do a number of the squad as Brazil internationals.
Nunez scored 34 goals in 41 matches across all competitions for Benfica last season
The way Colombian Luis Diaz, a January signing from Porto, not only settled but flourished in his first few months despite not speaking English, highlighted how comfortable Klopp is with bringing in players who do not speak a common language.
Sportsmail reported that Liverpool sporting director Julian Ward had been in Lisbon over the weekend to help close the deal.
Nunez represents another quality addition to an attacking line already filled with talent, having scored 34 goals in 41 matches across all competitions for the Portuguese giants last season.
Sportsmail revealed on Tuesday that Manchester United pulled out of the race for Nunez after deciding against being held to a bidding war with Liverpool.
Two of Nunez’s six goals in last season’s Champions League were against the Anfield side
United were invited into a bidding auction by the player’s agents but declined to engage – therefore making the club not an option for the player.
United have since moved on to other targets with Ajax winger Antony and Derby County’s Malcolm Ebiowei at the forefront.
The Uruguayan – who idolises former Reds striker and international team-mate Luis Suarez – netted six goals in last season’s Champions League, including two at the quarter-finals stage against Jurgen Klopp’s men and left an impression.
The German boss was impressed by what he saw and could now deploy the forward – who can play on the left of an attacking three as well as through the middle – in between January recruit Luis Diaz and star man Mohamed Salah.
Liverpool have a good relationship with Nunez’s agents Gestifute – who also represent Fabinho, Diogo Jota and Fabio Carvalho at Anfield – and are impressed with the improvement Klopp has brought from their clients.
He now looks set to play in between Luis Diaz (back) and Mohamed Salah (front) at Anfield
Liverpool’s manager said in April of Nunez: ‘A good looking boy, huh? And a decent player as well! Really good, really good.
‘I knew before, of course, but he played pretty much in front of me with his tough battles with Ibrahima Konate.
‘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.’
Nunez – who rejected a lucrative offer from Newcastle in January to move to the Premier League – was also interesting Atletico Madrid and Manchester United.
He started his career at Penarol in Uruguay, before moving to Almeria – who will receive 20 per cent of the fee Benfica collect – in 2019. But just a year later he signed a five-year deal at Benfica, where he scored 48 goals in 85 games.
The figure paid for Nunez (right) surpasses the £75m the Reds paid for Virgil van Dijk (left)
The move meanwhile appears to have pushed Sadio Mane closer to the Anfield exit, with Bayern Munich keen on signing the Senegal international.
The 30-year-old was the subject of a second bid from the Bundesliga champions earlier this month, but Anfield chiefs dismissed the £30m offer out of hand, feeling that the offer was derisory.
Bayern raised their initial bid from £21.5m to £23.5m, with the other £6.5m only coming in full if Mane won three Champions League crowns at the Allianz Arena in addition to as many Ballon d’Ors.
The German champions are trying to get £43m from Barcelona for Robert Lewandowski and Liverpool believe that figure is reflective of Mane’s worth. The Catalan giants, intriguingly, are also interested in the ex-Southampton forward.
The move appears to have pushed Bayern Munich target Sadio Mane closer to the Anfield exit