Liverpool are growing confident of signing Darwin Nunez from Benfica as Sadio Mane’s transfer to Bayern Munich draws closer, OBJECTIVE can confirm.
The Reds are willing to pay a record fee of over £75m ($94m) to land the Uruguay striker, who is also wanted by Manchester United.
And although they have now rejected two offers from Bayern for Mane, with the second worth around £30m ($38m), there is acceptance at Anfield that a deal will eventually be struck and the Senegalese star will join the Bundesliga champions.
What’s up with Liverpool’s move for Darwin Nunez?
Nunez has emerged as Liverpool’s top attacking transfer target this summer as Jurgen Klopp continues his overhaul of the Reds’ famous front three.
Mane’s expected departure, along with Roberto Firmino’s declining form over the past two seasons, has made additions crucial. Liverpool brought in Diogo Jota from Wolves in 2020 and added Luis Diaz from Porto in January, but are now ready to spend big to land one of Europe’s promising centre-forwards.
Nunez, 22, impressed against the Reds for Benfica in the Champions League quarter-finals earlier this year, scoring home and away. Klopp was particularly impressed with the former Almeria man’s physique and work ethic, and received rave reports from his recruitment team about the striker’s professionalism and desire to improve.
Benfica, OBJECTIVE understands, are ready to do business this summer, but Liverpool would need to break their transfer record, set in 2018 when they signed Virgil van Dijk from Southampton, if they are to land Nunez.
What about Sadio Mané and Bayern Munich?
As for Mane, the 30-year-old is now expected to get his wish and join Bayern in this transfer window.
The German giants have received encouragement from the player and his representative, Bjorn Bezemer, that he is open to a move to the Bundesliga, although Liverpool sources insist their valuation of around £40million (50 million) must be respected and that the club have a replacement lined up, if not already signed, before letting him go.
Bayern’s first two offers have been rebuffed, with the second branded ‘laughable’ by club sources. It consisted of just £23.5m ($29.5m) guaranteed, with the rest of the £30m ($38m) fee made up of ambitious add-ons, like a pay-if Mane would win the Ballon d’Or in each of the next three seasons.
Mane, like Firmino and Mohamed Salah, is set to enter the final 12 months of his contract, and Liverpool had intended to reopen negotiations over an extension once this season is over.
Now, however, they are resigned to losing a player who scored 120 goals in six years with the club. They remain keen to discuss a new deal with Salah, who has already publicly stated he won’t be leaving this summer, while Firmino is expected to be allowed to terminate his contract.
Are there any other Liverpool transfer deals going on?
Liverpool are also hoping to seal the £4million ($5million) signing of Aberdeen teenager Calvin Ramsay in the coming days.
The Scotland Under-21 right-back will join Trent Alexander-Arnold, with Neco Williams attracting interest from many Premier League clubs, including Fulham, where he spent the second half of the season on loan.
Williams is valued at over £10m ($12.5m) while Liverpool are also expecting offers for Japan international striker Takumi Minamino, with Leeds and Wolves currently leading the race. Minamino, who scored 10 goals last season despite having limited playing time, is valued at around £15m ($19m).
Divock Origi is set to join AC Milan on a free transfer, James Milner has signed a new one-year deal, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is set to leave, with West Ham among the keenest.
Nat Phillips is also expected to have offers, although he could be allowed to return on loan, along with Sepp Van den Berg, Rhys Williams, Leighton Clarkson and Owen Beck.