Fabio Vieira is thrilled to be joining "one of the biggest clubs in the world" after completing his move from Porto to Arsenal. 

The 22-year-old midfielder has signed a long-term contract with the Gunners, who will pay Porto a reported £30million (€35m) fee with a further £4.2m (€5m) in add-ons.

With Arsenal falling just two points short of their first top-four Premier League finish since the 2015-16 season last term, losing out to local rivals Tottenham after losing two of their final three games of the campaign, boss Mikel Arteta had targeted midfield reinforcements.

Vieira, who recorded more assists (14) than any other Porto player in the 2021-22 Primeira Liga campaign, is the man selected by Arsenal to provide extra creativity, and he says the Gunners' rich history attracted him to North London. 

"I'm thrilled, of course. This is an important step forward in my career," he told the club's website. "Arsenal is a huge and historic club, so I'm delighted to be here at my new home.

"Arsenal is a historic English club. It's one of the biggest clubs in the world. Everyone knows that Arsenal are a fantastic team. 

"That was one of the main factors behind me choosing Arsenal. I really like the way the team plays, and I can't wait to get started.

"I know some very famous players have played here. Some big stars, global legends of the game, such as [Dennis] Bergkamp, Thierry Henry, [Santi] Cazorla and [Cesc] Fabregas. I remember them well. They were players who had so much presence on the pitch.

"I feel it's the right move in my career. I think it'll be really good for me, and I have no regrets about it. I'm thrilled to be here."

Arsenal scored at least eight goals fewer than each of the four Premier League sides to achieve Champions League qualification last term, and the addition of Vieira – who scored six league goals and ranked joint-fifth among Porto players for chances created (34) last season, will provide Arteta will another creative fulcrum.

Vieira says his strengths are in the final third of the pitch, as he compared his style to that of current Arsenal midfielder Martin Odegaard.

"I'm an attacking player who looks to find space between the lines to be able to finish off moves either with assists or by scoring goals," he added. "I think those are the main attributes that Arsenal fans can expect from me. I'll always give my all for the team.

"My strengths are my passing and shooting ability. I think those are my main strengths. As for what I need to work on, I'd say the physical side of my game.

"Arsenal have top players and I'm now here to help the team reach its goals. I'm a fan of Bukayo Saka and [Emile] Smith Rowe, I really like the way they play. Odegaard is quite similar to me."

Vieira could make his Arsenal debut when the Gunners play the first fixture of the 2022-23 Premier League season on August 5, away at Crystal Palace.

Arsenal have completed the signing of Fabio Vieira from Porto for a £30million fee (€35m) with £4.2m (€5m) in add-ons.

Mikel Arteta has been linked to numerous players in the transfer market as Arsenal look to strengthen after failing to qualify for the Champions League.

Youri Tielemans and Vitinha were among the names suggested to bolster the midfield of Arsenal, who already have Granit Xhaka, Martin Odegaard, Thomas Partey and Mohamed Elneny to call upon.

Arsenal have instead opted to bring in Vitinha's Porto team-mate Vieira on a long-term deal, the club announced on Tuesday.

"I am very excited that we have identified and signed such a special talent," said Arteta.

"Fabio is a very creative player that will bring high quality and versatility to our attacking play.

"We welcome Fabio and his family to our club and are looking forward to starting work with him ahead of the new season."

Vieira will offer Arteta another creative outlet going forward, the 22-year-old recording the most assists (14) among Porto players in the 2021-22 Primeira Liga campaign.

The midfielder also scored six league goals and ranked joint-fifth for chances created (34), while playing 27 times.

Arteta will hope Vieira can provide capable support to the likes of Odegaard, Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Eddie Nketiah as Arsenal look to improve on their fifth-place finish in the Premier League.

Victor Osimhen, Noa Lang and Gabriel Jesus have all been linked to fill the void left up top by the departures of Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

And Arsenal technical director Edu, who was thrilled with the move, suggested there was more to come in the transfer market.

"We are so pleased to have completed the signing of Fabio from FC Porto," he said.

"Fabio is a player with special qualities who is comfortable with the ball in the final third of the pitch.

"We are all looking forward to working with him and enjoying his future contribution to Arsenal. We will now continue to work hard and are looking forward to finishing this transfer window as strongly possible."

Vieira has been handed the number 21 shirt.

Arsenal have secured a "dream for any manager" in agreeing a deal with Porto for Fabio Vieira.

That is the message from former Porto youth coach Manuel Tulipa, who was speaking to BBC Sport after the Primeira Liga side confirmed that terms for the transfer had been agreed.

Mikel Arteta's side will pay £30million (€35m) up front with £4.2m (€5m) in add-ons, with the move subject to Vieira agreeing personal terms with the Premier League side.

Arsenal will add another creative outlet to their ranks, which already boasts Martin Odegaard, Bukayo Saka, Thomas Partey, Mohamed Elneny, Granit Xhaka and Emile Smith Rowe.

Vieira provided the most assists (14) among Porto players in the 2021-22 Primeira Liga campaign and scored six league goals.

The 22-year-old also ranked joint-fifth for chances created (34), while playing 27 times, and Tulipa hailed the transfer as a good deal for all parties.

"Players like Fabio are worth a lot of money, so if you can grab them before they fully break out, why not? That's smart business," he said.

"He's that kind of creative midfielder who comes with the solution when you're struggling during a game. He can see what's going on around him and anticipate what will happen.

"That's the dream for any manager and the sort of footballer that clubs are always after.

"He has all the tools – he can dribble, combine, slow down the tempo, break into the box, score. Players like this have to be close to goal.

"One thing he needed to improve, however, were his actions without the ball, but he did so over the past months.

"He has grown into a more collective athlete under [Porto coach Sergio] Conceicao and found the right balance between the different moments of the game."

Manchester United are reportedly preparing a second offer for 22-year-old Porto striker Evanilson after they had a bid of €65million rejected by the Portuguese champions.

The Brazilian was purchased by Porto in 2020 for €8.8m out of Fluminense, and after scoring four goals from 24 appearances in his first season in the Primeira Liga, he exploded in his second campaign with 21 goals in 46 outings.

He had 14 goals and four assists in 30 league games, and seven goals in seven Taca de Portugal fixtures on the way to winning Portugal's top domestic cup.

 

TOP STORY – RED DEVILS PLAN BIG-MONEY MOVE FOR LITTLE-KNOWN BRAZILIAN

The report out of Portuguese newspaper O Jogo claims Porto has already fought off interest from both Brighton and Hove Albion and Wolves by raising their asking price to €80m.

Porto are said to be desperate to retain the striker's services for one more season – even labelling him 'untouchable' – but could have their hand forced if the Old Trafford side is willing to go all-in.

It would be a shock for United to fork out such a large sum for a striker while also trying to push Barcelona's asking price for Frenkie de Jong down to a more palatable number.

The Sun is also reporting Ajax winger Antony is a serious target for former Ajax boss Erik ten Hag, Goal claims that they are hoping to convince Christian Eriksen to sign on as well, and Corriere dello Sport believe they are investigating the possibility of landing Tammy Abraham.

 

ROUND-UP

Arsenal have reportedly become the favourites to land Leeds United winger Raphinha as Barcelona's interest in the Brazilian cools off, according to Goal.

– The Daily Mail is reporting Chelsea have joined the race for Everton striker Richarlison, with Tottenham also in the bidding for the £50m man.

– According to Sky Sports, West Ham are planning a £30m bid for 20-year-old striker Armando Broja, who scored nine goals for Southampton last season while on loan from Chelsea.

Nottingham Forest are trying to break their club-record transfer fee to sign 24-year-old Nigerian striker Taiyo Awoniyi for £17.5m from German side Union Berlin, per the Telegraph, although Football Insider claims Awoniyi will turn them down in favour of other offers.

– Calciomercato is reporting Kalidou Koulibaly will not join Juventus because he does not want to be considered a "traitor" like Gonzalo Higuain after his move to Turin – instead favouring a move to Barcelona.

Benfica have announced the signing of Brazil winger David Neres from Shakhtar Donetsk, as the Lisbon giants move to strengthen their squad following the sale of Darwin Nunez to Liverpool. 

Neres has signed a five-year contract with Benfica, who have agreed to pay a reported €15.3million for the tricky 25-year-old. 

Neres rose to prominence during a five-year spell at Eredivisie giants Ajax, scoring 47 goals and supplying 34 assists in 180 appearances in all competitions. He impressed during their run to the Champions League semi-finals under Erik ten Hag in 2018-19. 

The winger left Ajax for Shakhtar last January but never played an official game for the club after the Russian invasion of Ukraine led to the suspension of the country's top flight. 

Neres told Benfica's website he was thrilled to have the opportunity to play regularly again in a comfortable setting. 

"It is good to arrive in a country where everyone speaks Portuguese, and I am very happy to sign for the club. Benfica is a big club in Europe and in the world," he said. 

"Everyone knows how strong Benfica is and how great the club is. I am happy to have the opportunity to play football again, something I love. 

"I hope the adaptation will be easy. I lived five years in the Netherlands, where the language and climate are totally different. Here in Portugal, I have everything going for me and I hope it will be easier." 

Neres won all seven of his international caps during 2019, starting two games as Brazil won the Copa America, and will hope his move to the 37-time Portuguese champions can aid his chances of breaking back into Tite's squad for the World Cup in Qatar this year. 

Benfica have allowed another Brazilian winger to leave the club to facilitate the deal, with Everton – who has 25 caps for the Selecao – being sold to Flamengo. 

Porto have confirmed they have reached an agreement with Arsenal over the sale of Fabio Vieira.

Vieira arrived in London for a medical on Friday and Porto have subsequently announced a transfer deal has been agreed with the Gunners.

The Portuguese Primeira Liga side confirmed in a brief statement that the transfer had been agreed, with Arsenal paying £30million (€35m) up front with £4.2m (€5m) in add-ons.

Arsenal appeared to be interested in Youri Tielemans and Porto star Vitinha before his team-mate Vieira emerged as a top midfield target for manager Mikel Arteta.

Porto added that while a deal was in place, the move is subject to Vieira agreeing personal terms with the Premier League side.

"It is further informed that the final agreement is still being finalised and is awaiting its completion in the coming days," the statement added.

The 22-year-old enjoyed a productive 2021-22 Primeira Liga season, scoring six times and leading his side with 14 assists.

Darwin Nunez is "more flexible" than Erling Haaland and an ideal fit for Liverpool, according to one of his former coaches.

Nunez joined Liverpool from Benfica on Tuesday, with the Lisbon club confirming the fee to be £64million (€75m), and a further £21.4m (€25m) in potential add-ons.

The Uruguayan striker netted 34 times in 41 games in all competitions for Benfica last season.

Meanwhile, Manchester City - who pipped Liverpool by one point in a compelling Premier League title race last month - clinched the signing of Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund after triggering his release clause of a reported £51.2m (€60m).

Haaland scored a monstrous 86 goals in 89 games for Dortmund during two-and-a-half seasons in the Bundesliga, and talk has already begun about whether he or Nunez will do better in English football.

Former Almeria assistant manager David Badia worked with Nunez during the 2019-20 season in the Spanish second tier, with the forward netting 16 goals in 32 league games before a €24m move to Benfica.

In an exclusive interview with Stats Perform, Badia said he believes Nunez is a different type of player to Haaland, and backed him to settle quickly into Liverpool's system.

"I don't want to say they are similar because I think Darwin could be maybe a little bit more flexible," he said. "He's a player that can change the direction a little bit faster than Haaland.

"Maybe Haaland is a little bit more powerful and when he starts [running] he breaks everything in front of him, but I think that [Nunez] can change direction a bit faster and, for the style that Liverpool has, I think he is more of a fit."

Badia, who has been managing in Cyprus since leaving Almeria in January 2021, believes Nunez could be in the conversation for the Ballon d'Or during his time at Anfield.

"I think that nobody spoke about Darwin," he said regarding whether he can challenge Haaland and Kylian Mbappe in future for the prestigious award. 

"I mean, maybe in the publicity, he has not [got] the brand that the other two have.

"It's going to be a very clever move from Liverpool, because it's looked like everybody was looking [at] Haaland... nobody was saying nothing about Darwin.

"But I know him, I follow him, and I knew that the [club] who is going to take him is going to [get a] cheaper [deal]."

Badia also outlined his first impressions of Nunez when he joined Almeria from Penarol in 2019, when he worked as an assistant to then-head coach and former Real Madrid midfielder, Guti.

"In a few training sessions that we took... we could see that [Nunez] had something special. We saw that the Almeria was [too] small for him," Badia added.

"Everything that he was doing was on another level. The speed of execution was completely [different] compared to the rest of the players of the league, not only in the team of the league of the second division in Spain.

"He was a really important player for the team, also his team-mates knew that he was going to leave earlier, that he was not going to stay longer because everybody was watching him in the stands.

"We knew that this team is coming, the other team is coming, and then in the end we knew that in a short period he was going to leave and he was going to go on his way."

Darwin Nunez has similar characteristics to former Liverpool striker Fernando Torres, but may actually be even faster, according to one of the Uruguayan's former coaches.

Nunez's move from Benfica to Liverpool was confirmed on Tuesday, with the Portuguese club revealing the fee to be £64million (€75m), with a further £21.4m (€25m) in potential add-ons.

The 22-year-old enjoyed a prolific 2021-22 season, finding the net 34 times in 41 games in all competitions.

Torres, who played for Liverpool between 2007 and 2011, scored 81 goals in 142 appearances for the Reds before making a big-money move to rivals Chelsea, and at his peak was considered one of the best strikers in the world.

Comparisons have been made between Nunez and Torres, with similar statures and explosiveness, and former Almeria assistant manager David Badia believes the former is actually the quicker of the two.

Badia worked with Nunez during the 2019-20 season in the Spanish second tier, with the striker bagging 16 goals in 32 league games for Almeria before a €24m move to Benfica.

Speaking to Stats Perform, Badia said of the comparison with Torres: "Of course, Fernando is a Spanish guy, [so] I will protect him, but I think that Darwin is a little bit faster than him.

"When Darwin has the possession of the ball, he is a very good player, he can control the ball, he can protect the ball.

"Maybe Fernando [was] doing the same actions at a little bit lower speed, that also is good because you can do many other things, but in my opinion, Darwin can do the plays faster."

Badia also outlined Nunez's characteristics that should make him an ideal fit in Jurgen Klopp's side.

He added: "I think it's the combination of many things.

"It's not only just one thing that he has, but if I have to say something among the others - it's the change of the pace that he has, and the speed that he can maintain over a long distance.

"He can keep this speed for 30, 35, 40 metres, and then when he arrives at the end of a move he can finish it inside the box."

Klopp regularly refers to his players as "mentality monsters", and Badia is certain Nunez will fit in at Anfield in that respect as well, pointing out how the player came back from serious knee issues early on in his career.

"One hundred percent [he has the mentality]," he added. "I think he had one of the worst injuries that a player can have when he was 16 or 17 years old. And after that he became stronger.

"It's very important when a player has these injuries that he can develop himself and keep working to have this character, this mentality.

"I think the mentality he has, the ambition he has and the focus he is having through the years, he is working for that.

"If there is one coach that can improve the players, that one is the coach of Liverpool [Klopp]. In the end, I think he's in one of the best scenarios, or maybe the best team in the world right now where he can keep improving, and I think that he still has a long way to improve."

Arsenal and Manchester United target Vitinha will only be sold if his release clause is met, according to Porto president Pinto da Costa.

Mikel Arteta's side have been heavily linked with Leicester City midfielder Youri Tielemans in recent weeks.

But Porto star Vitinha has emerged as a potential alternative as Arteta looks to bolster his midfield, which already includes Granit Xhaka, Thomas Partey and Martin Odegaard.

Reports in Portugal suggested Arsenal are the only club willing to meet the Portugal international's £35million release clause.

United are also said to be interested, with Barcelona among those attempting to secure the midfielder's services should they be able to ease financial difficulties.

Da Costa, speaking to reporters on Wednesday, revealed Porto have received an unsatisfactory bid for Vitinha, who will only be allowed to leave should his release clause be met.

"There was a concrete offer, of considerable value, for Vitinha that we did not accept," he said.

"And we referred them to the release clause, which is the only way to take our player."

Arteta is also in the market for a striker, with Gabriel Jesus and Victor Osimhen among the names being linked to the Emirates Stadium.

That is after Arsenal lost Alexander Lacazette to Lyon on a free transfer and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to Barcelona in January, while Eddie Nketiah is yet to agree to a new contract.

Whoever the talisman is that Arteta manages to capture, Vitinha will provide capable creative support from midfield.

The 22-year-old played 30 games in the Portuguese Primeira Liga this season, ranking second among Porto players for successful passes (1,680) and third for chances created (42).

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says new signing Darwin Nunez has all the pieces that the Reds look for in a player but insists he is still a "work in progress".

The Reds confirmed the signing of the 22-year-old Uruguay international forward on a "long-term contract" from Benfica on Tuesday.

Nunez has joined for a reported fee of £64million (€75m), with a further £21.4m (€25m) in potential add-ons, in a move that is subject to the granting of a work permit and international clearance.

The striker joins after netting 48 goals in 85 appearances for Benfica, finishing as last season's Primeira Liga top scorer with 26 strikes. He also scored in both of Benfica's Champions League matches against Liverpool prompting excitement about his acquisition.

Klopp was delighted with his capture given his qualities to add to their forward options but stressed he was not the finished product yet.

"Darwin is a wonderful player, already really good but so much potential to get even better," Klopp told Liverpool's official website. "That’s why it's so exciting, to be honest. His age, his desire, his hunger to be even better than he currently is. His belief in our project and what we are looking to do as a club.

"He is as excited by us as we are by him, which makes for a great relationship, when you appreciate each other’s strengths. That is certainly the case here. He thinks we suit him and we believe he is the right fit for us.

"He has all the pieces we look for. He can set a tempo, he brings energy, he can threaten space from central and wide areas. He is aggressive and dynamic with his movement. He plays without fear, he's powerful. I know he will excite our supporters.

"It’s important we all recognise we are getting a 'work in progress' with Darwin. He recognises that himself, for sure. I love how much focus and humility he has.

"We have wonderful attacking options already and he becomes part of that now. So there is no pressure on him at all. He signs for a very long time and we intend to nurture his talent and see it grow."

Klopp hailed the club's ambition in completing the deal for Nunez, who had interest from several other clubs including Manchester United and Newcastle United.

"This is super news, really super news,” Klopp added. "I’m very grateful to everyone at the club for making it happen. We've shown decisiveness and ambition in equal measure."

Nunez said Liverpool's ambition and style of play were key reasons behind his decision to join the 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," he said.

"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 insisted he was not feeling any pressure to deliver instant rewards for the Reds, despite the lofty transfer figure. The Uruguayan referenced the same situation when he left Almeria to join Benfica for a club record €24m in 2020.

"I don't feel any added pressure at all," he said. "I went to Benfica and they asked me the same question then.

"I don't think a player has to feel this type of pressure, a player has to feel his own pressure that he puts on himself. I don't feel pressured by anything or anybody, I think the only pressure on a player comes from within to ensure things go well. So, no extra pressure.

"I think I must have been performing pretty well to find myself at Liverpool. I want to make sure that I keep performing well, keep on the right path and don't deviate from that path, while always remaining humble and keeping my feet on the ground."

Liverpool have confirmed the signing of Darwin Nunez from Benfica, with the striker agreeing a "long-term" contract at Anfield after finalising his departure from the Lisbon giants.

The Uruguayan has joined the Reds for a reported fee of £64million (€75m), with a further £21.4m (€25m) in potential add-ons.

Speaking to the club's official media channels after his arrival was officially confirmed on Tuesday, Nunez said: "I'm really happy and delighted to be here at Liverpool. It's a massive club.

"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."

Nunez signed for Benfica in 2020 from Spanish second tier side Almeria for around €24m, going on to score 45 goals in 85 games, 61 of those starts, for the Primeira Liga club in all competitions.

The 22-year-old enjoyed a prolific 2021-22 season, finding the net 34 times in 41 games in all competitions.

He also scored six times in the Champions League, including both legs of Benfica's 6-4 quarter-final aggregate defeat to Liverpool.

Nunez's arrival would appear to make the potential exit of Sadio Mane more likely, with the Senegal attacker having been heavily linked with a move to Bayern Munich in recent weeks.

Jurgen Klopp will be hoping Nunez can add more firepower to his already potent front line and maintain his astonishing conversion rate of 27.2 per cent, which was the highest of all players with 55 or more non-penalty shots in Europe's top six leagues last season.

 

There has been a lot of talk about the money Liverpool are investing in Darwin Nunez.

The Uruguay striker arrives at Anfield for a fee that will likely end up surpassing their previous club record of £75million spent on Virgil van Dijk from Southampton in January 2018.

Benfica confirmed on Monday they had agreed to sell Nunez to Liverpool for an initial fee of £64m (€75m), with a further £21.4m (€25m) in add-ons. Liverpool provided their own confirmation on Tuesday.

The Merseyside club will likely be saying goodbye to a key player at the same time, though, with Sadio Mane being strongly linked with a move to Bayern Munich.

So can Nunez emulate what the Senegal star has been able to in his time at Liverpool, or can he even surpass it?

Stats Perform has taken a look at the 22-year-old to see what Liverpool might be getting for their cash.

Is Nunez a Mane replacement?

What appears to stand out above all else is that Nunez is being signed primarily to score goals.

He may not have hit the ground running at Benfica after making a €24m move from Almeria in September 2020, netting just six times in 29 Primeira Liga games (19 starts) in 2020-21, but he more than made up for it this season.

Nunez had an expected goals (xG) rating of 9.98 in his first season according to Opta, suggesting he was not scoring as many as he should, which he almost overcompensated for in 2021-22 by recording 26 goals in 28 league games (24 starts) from 18.4 xG.

By comparison, Mane – who is in the conversation for the 2022 Ballon d'Or – scored 16 goals in 34 Premier League appearances (32 starts) an xG figure remarkably similar to Nunez (18.3). So, while the chances that went their way were of a comparable value over the course of the season, the Uruguayan proved far more clinical.

The relative difference in quality between the top flights in England and Portugal must be taken into account, of course, but in the Champions League the duo also matched up well.

Nunez scored six goals from 10 appearances (six starts) from an xG of just 3.1, while Mane registered five goals from 13 games (11 starts) from an xG of 4.5. Once again, the 22-year-old proved a more dependable finisher of chances than the Senegal star.

Whether Nunez can translate this to English football remains to be seen, but there are other interesting parallels between the two players which indicate they are perhaps not as different as some appear to think.

In their respective leagues last season, Nunez and Mane also offered a similar degree of creativity. The former registered four assists from an expected assists (xA) total of 4.8, while Mane had two from 4.4 xA to his name, suggesting he was let down by poor finishing from his team-mates on occasion.

Both players have proven themselves to be comfortable running with the ball as well, attempting 86 dribbles each over the 2021-22 season, though Mane's success rate of 54.7 per cent was significantly better than Nunez's 45.4.

Of course, the chief difference between the pair is the fact former Southampton attacker Mane has mostly played off the left for Liverpool, whereas Nunez is primarily a centre forward.

That should not be an issue though, given the Reds addressed that side of the pitch only a few months ago by shopping in a familiar market.

Primeira Liga? Completed it, amigo

To the surprise of many, not least Liverpool, they had their hand forced at the end of the January transfer window and signed Luis Diaz from Porto, so it is a league they clearly know well.

Not that they hadn't already intended to buy Diaz, but reports suggested the plan was to do so at the end of the season, only for an unexpected advance from Tottenham to make them bring the transaction forward.

It proved a welcome necessity as Diaz hit the ground running and played a big part in Liverpool almost doing the unthinkable and winning an unprecedented quadruple.

However, with the Colombian taking the role on the left of the attack, Mane was asked to play in an unfamiliar central position for the remainder of the campaign, though broadly to impressive effect.

Nunez will be a slightly more natural fit in that central role, and like Diaz will be hoping the transition from the Primeira Liga to the Premier League is a relatively seamless one.

He already showed in his two performances against Liverpool in the Champions League quarter-finals this term that he can cut it against English opposition.

In the first leg in Lisbon, Jurgen Klopp's men ran out 3-1 winners, but Nunez scored the Benfica goal and played well enough that Virgil van Dijk recently listed him as one of his toughest ever opponents in an interview with Rio Ferdinand.

He arguably impressed more in the return leg at Anfield, when Van Dijk did not play. Nunez often pulled out to the left and stretched Liverpool's defence, and had it not been for their effective offside trap, could have had a hat-trick.

Nunez put the ball in the Liverpool net three times, but two were ruled out by the assistant referee as Benfica drew 3-3, losing 6-4 on aggregate.

He showed his force of personality in the final 10 minutes though as he also brought a tremendous save out of Alisson, and almost dragged his team back into a contest they had previously been well out of.

Can Liverpool adapt to Nunez?

Two of Liverpool's goals that night were scored by Roberto Firmino, who was excellent under the Anfield floodlights, but who has seen his previously key role in Liverpool's attack diminish in recent years.

It was appreciated that the way the Brazil international played in more of a 'false nine' role allowed Mane and Mohamed Salah to thrive, until the arrival of Diogo Jota in 2020, which signalled a slight move away from that as the former Wolves man increasingly played a role closer to that of a traditional striker in Klopp's system.

It oversimplifies Nunez to suggest he is an out and out number nine in the mould of an Erling Haaland. He drops deep and pulls wide similarly to smaller attackers, like the ones already at Liverpool in fact.

However, at 6ft 2in tall, he could also provide a weapon that will have the eyes of Liverpool full backs Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson lighting up, particularly the former.

No other defender in Europe's top five leagues created anything like Alexander-Arnold's 129 chances this season, with Robertson second on 90, ahead of Fiorentina's Cristiano Biraghi (89).

He also created the most 'big chances' this season (defined by Opta as a chance from which a goal would be expected) with 27, while only Hoffenheim's David Raum (226) and RB Leipzig's Angelino (211) provided more open play crosses than his 191.

On paper, Nunez has everything needed to succeed in the Premier League. Pace, power, skill, shooting accuracy and lovely hair.

The Darwin evolution puns are already wearing thin, for which we take partial responsibility, but it will be best for the player if he ignores all comparisons.

Nunez can simply be his own man.

Harry Kane says the arrivals of Erling Haaland and Darwin Nunez in the Premier League will drive him to improve in an enticing Golden Boot race.

Kane has won three Golden Boot awards in the English top flight – in 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2020-21 – and managed 17 goals this season as Tottenham qualified for the Champions League.

Spurs team-mate Son Heung-min shared the accolade for the most Premier League goals with Liverpool's Mohamed Salah this season, the pair scoring 23 goals each.

Jurgen Klopp looks set to add more firepower to his attack at Anfield, with Nunez close to joining Liverpool for an initial fee of £64million (€75m) from Benfica.

Nunez has scored 48 goals in 85 games for Benfica in all competitions and averaged 1.2 goals every 90 minutes in the Portuguese Primeira Liga last season.

Meanwhile, Pep Guardiola bolstered his own wealth of attacking options with the Premier League champions Manchester City by triggering Haaland's release clause at Borussia Dortmund.

The Norway international scored 86 goals in 89 games for Dortmund since joining from Salzburg in January 2020, averaging a goal every 84 minutes across all competitions.

Kane cannot wait to compete with the duo next season as the Premier League adds more talismanic talent to their ranks.

 

"Look, I think the battle for the Golden Boot is always tough," Kane said at a pre-match news conference while on Nations League duty with England on Monday. 

"The Premier League has produced some top strikers around the world for a number of years now.

"I think every season I've been playing it's always been a tough battle to win that Golden Boot and it's no different.

"You expect the top strikers to want to play in the Premier League and with those two new signings, that's gonna be the case.

"I think it helps me as a player to have good competition, it drives me to improve and get better. I look forward to the challenge."

The build-up to Kane's 2021-22 campaign was filled with distraction as City tried and failed to secure the services of the England striker, attempting to replace the void left by Sergio Aguero at the Etihad Stadium.

Kane will likely have a smoother pre-season this time around and will look to utilise that to prepare for another campaign under Spurs head coach Antonio Conte.

 

"I try and focus on myself to begin with. Going into any season I have things I want to achieve and goals I want to reach," he added.

"I try not to focus too much on other players in that aspect, I can't control what they do.

"But what I will do is continue to work hard and improve and after this game have a nice break but then look forward to what will be a tough pre-season.

"And then I'll get ready for the new season as I have done for the last seven, eight years now."

Benfica have confirmed they have reached an agreement with Liverpool over the sale of Darwin Nunez.

Releasing a statement on their website early on Monday, Benfica confirmed the Uruguay striker will head to Anfield for a fee of £64million (€75m), with a further £21.4m (€25m) in potential add-ons.

Nunez signed for Benfica in 2020 from Spanish second tier side Almeria for around €24m and scored 45 goals in 85 games, 61 of those starts, for the Primeira Liga club in all competitions.

The club also notified that finalising the deal will now depend on the agreement of personal terms between Nunez, his representatives and Liverpool.

"It is further informed that the aforementioned agreement is dependent on the signing of the player's employment contract with Liverpool FC," a Benfica statement said.

The 22-year-old enjoyed a prolific 2021-22 season, finding the net 34 times in 41 games in all competitions.

Darwin Nunez is "mentally strong" enough to deal with the pressure of playing for Liverpool, according to an ex-coach of the Benfica star.

The 22-year-old has been widely linked with a transfer from Portugal to join Jurgen Klopp's Reds in the Premier League next season.

Already regarded as one of the world's most-promising young strikers, hopes are high that he can help deliver the sort of impact Erling Haaland is anticipated to at rivals Manchester City.

Leonardo Ramos, who gave the Uruguay international his debut at Penarol before his move to Europe, certainly feels Nunez is ready to back himself, adamant his previous experiences with injury problems have only strengthened his resolve.

"I think that he is more mentally strong now," Ramos told Stats Perform. "Because I can tell you that he was suffering a lot.

"[He was] suffering at the level of running and training while crying all the time, so he knows what suffering is, he knows what constant pressure is.

"At that moment, me and his representative didn't know [the injury he had] and probably we put a very big pressure on his head because his career as a footballer was at stake with all the conditions he had.

"It seems to me that, the fact that he was in Portugal and he was on a level where everyone was talking about him – because really everyone was talking about Darwin Nunez – it seems that today his head is ready for that, to withstand that pressure."

Nunez struggled with injuries during his breakthrough at Penarol, making just 15 league appearances before leaving for Almeria in 2019.

But Ramos believes the experience helped him gain an edge on team-mates, with a recovery routine that added more bulk to his physique to compliment his impressive skill set.

"Darwin ended up being what he is today, an incredible player," he reflected. "We saw him and he saw it too, and especially enhanced, because Darwin gained a lot of muscle mass in training separate from team-mates.

"He changed his physique a lot. Today, he is much more athletic, but he was already an outstanding player. He showed that when he debuted, he showed all his level."

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