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Darwin Nunez: Liverpool close to agreeing £85m deal for Benfica striker

Nunez scored 34 times in all competitions for Benfica last season and is rated at €100m (£85.5m); He wants to move to Liverpool and is ready to sign five-year contract; If the deal is agreed on Sunday, as expected, Nunez will begin his medical examinations on Monday

Benfica's Darwin Nunez, centre, celebrates after scoring against Liverpool
Image: Darwin Nunez is ready to sign a five-year deal at Liverpool

Liverpool are close to agreeing a deal worth up to €100m (£85.5m) for Benfica striker Darwin Nunez.

The Premier League club are paying an intial €75m plus €25m in potential add-ons.

If the deal is agreed on Sunday, as expected, the Uruguay international's medical examinations will start on Monday..

The player wants to move to Liverpool and is ready to sign a five-year contract.

Liverpool's director of football, Julian Ward, is in Portugal to try to complete the transfer, with negotiations centred on the structure of the deal.

Nunez scored 34 times for Benfica last season in all competitions, including goals in both legs of the club's Champions League quarter-final defeat to Liverpool in April.

Liverpool are not prepared to enter a bidding war for their number one transfer target, with Manchester United also admirers of the 22-year-old, despite doubts over the futures of Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah.

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Darwin Nunez

Mane is wanted by German champions Bayern Munich after the Senegal forward refused to commit to Liverpool beyond next season.

The 30-year-old has one year left on his contract and joked the majority of people in Senegal want him to leave Anfield.

Salah also has one year left on his Liverpool contract but announced before last month's Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid that he will be staying in Merseyside for at least one more season.

The view from Portugal: how good is Darwin Nunez?

Portuguese football expert Pedro Sepulveda speaking on Sky Sports News:

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Portuguese football expert Pedro Sepulveda says that Liverpool are still in the driving seat to sign Darwin Nunez despite interest from Manchester United and Newcastle. 

"Darwin Nunez was one of the best players this season in the Portuguese league by far. The other one was Luis Diaz who moved to Liverpool in January and that made Nunez the absolute best player.

"Benfica finished the season in third place and failed to get a direct spot in the Champions League but in 41 games, Nunez scored 34 goals and registered four assists - so you're talking about one of the best strikers.

"He's a 'modern football striker' - like Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe - strikers who don't just focus on scoring goals. They focus on playing for the team and making the whole team play well. That's why we're talking about €100m.

"The biggest defect - or the less good point - about Nunez is his psychological game. In the 2020/21 season, he was not scoring many goals. He played 44 matches and only scored 14. He was criticised by the fans a little bit and the first thing he did was start suspending his social media, blocking people and not reading the comments. This proves he doesn't deal well with critics when things start not going well. And in England, the price tag is the first thing people will talk about when he doesn't start scoring goals.

"When you talk about a player like Darwin Nunez, you think about a typical number nine that plays inside the penalty area. But he can easily play out wide to break spaces for other players in the central areas if teams need him. It's a very good deal for Liverpool, who already used the Portuguese league with Luis Diaz in a massive transfer for Liverpool which the winger completely deserved.

"In Jurgen Klopp's hands, Darwin can be of the top strikers in the world. Nowadays, he's not one of the top strikers because he doesn't play in the top five leagues. We have to see how he develops in the Premier League, which is one of the best leagues in the world."

The making of Darwin Nunez

Benfica and Uruguay forward Darwin Nunez

Meet Darwin Nunez, the Uruguayan forward set for a big move from Benfica - and his former coaches are backing him to star 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.

Which positions are Liverpool targeting this summer?

Sky Sports News reporter Vinny O'Connor:

Liverpool will look to strengthen their forward line this season. The fact they even spoke to Kylian Mbappe shows how intent they are to add further quality up top.

It makes sense with Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino entering the final year of their contracts while the potential departure of Sadio Mane, who has also got one year left on his deal, and Divock Origi having already decided to go, makes reinforcements in that area a priority. If Mane is to leave, Liverpool will only look to do business for a fee above the €30m that's been quoted and they would want a replacement sorted before allowing him to go.

With Fabio Carvalho due to officially start his Liverpool career on July 1, any further overhaul in midfield could depend on the futures of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Takumi Minamino. Oxlade-Chamberlain made 29 appearances in a 63 game season and hasn't played since the FA Cup win over Forest in March, while Minamino made just 24 appearances and both could look for more regular first-team opportunities. Oxlade-Chamberlain is another player with just one year left on his contract.

Strengthening the back-line doesn't appear to be a priority with Ibrahima Konate offering another option to Joel Matip and Virgil van Dijk while Joe Gomez is able to cover right-back and centre-back.

Follow the summer transfer window with Sky Sports

Who will be on the move this summer when the transfer window opens on June 10 and closes at 11pm on September 1?

Keep up-to-date with all the latest transfer news and rumours in our dedicated Transfer Centre blog on Sky Sports' digital platforms. You can also catch up with the ins, outs and analysis on Sky Sports News.

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