Where Liverpool’s record signing Darwin Nunez stands among Europe’s best goal-scorers


Liverpool have bet big on Darwin Nunez. And they usually don’t.

The Reds signed the 22-year-old from Portuguese side Benfica for a reported fee of 64 million pounds, which could potentially rise to a club-record fee of 85 million. Nunez was on the radar of some of the top European teams, at one point he was said to be a big transfer target for Manchester United.

Jurgen Klopp’s side were always the clear favourites though, and for a team that spends money in the transfer market as judiciously as Liverpool, the reported figures about a relatively unknown player in Europe certainly did raise eyebrows.

A closer look at the Uruguayan’s scoring figures allows a deeper understanding of why he was so high on Liverpool’s priority list.

Nunez’s scoring numbers are among the best in Europe. Robert Lewandowski leads the way for goals scored and is shortly followed by Frenchmen Karim Benzema and Kylian Mbappe. But Nunez’s return of 34 goals in 41 appearances puts him joint fifth on this list, and his goals per match ratio is even more impressive, comfortably trumping Liverpool superstar and top scorer Mohamed Salah.

When compared with Europe’s elite goal-scorers in terms of goals per minute played, Nunez’s numbers become even more impressive:

The Uruguayan scored a goal every 83 minutes he played for Benfica last season, a record that was bettered only by Erling Haaland and Lewandowski – both of whom ply their trade in the high-tempo Bundesliga. Even Benzema – who has undoubtedly had the best season of his career – has a lower minutes per goal ratio at 89.

Nunez virtually averages a goal every full game he plays, and at 22, that is a seriously impressive record, even if it is not in one of the elusive top 5 leagues in Europe.

Fitting into Liverpool’s system

Over the past two seasons, Liverpool have had to come to terms with the fact that their longstanding and reliable front three of Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane, and Salah, will have to be replaced. With the recent signings of Diogo Jota and Luis Diaz, the Reds have attempted to move into the future, and Nunez will play right into that.

It is likely for the 22-year-old to take some time to adapt to the physicality of the Premier League, and the physical and tactical demands of Jurgen Klopp’s high-pressing system. But going forward, the Uruguayan more than holds his own.

Here’s a look at how some of Nunez’s attacking metrics in the Portuguese league compare to Liverpool’s current forward players:

It is apparent that the January signing of Luis Diaz has offered Liverpool something totally unique. The Brazilian’s dynamic and direct style has added flair and risk-taking to the Reds’ frontline, especially when it comes to shots and dribbles completed.

But Nunez’s playing style is more in line with Klopp’s other attackers, and last season he outperformed most of them in key areas. While Firmino’s poor numbers are a product of him playing less and less, Mane and Jota are well-beaten by Nunez when it comes to shots taken, dribbles completed, and chances created per game. In terms of goals per game, as seen in the charts above, he has an even better output than Salah.

Nunez’s speed, goalscoring instinct, and raw potential compliment Jota’s clever movement and Diaz’s dynamism well. If Klopp can unlock the Uruguayan’s best, the Liverpool frontline should move into the future with ease, with or without a solution for Salah’s contract.

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