Liverpool have the announced signing of Darwin Núñez from Benfica for a fee that could reach £85m.
The Uruguay international, who turns 23 next week, was the top scorer in Portugal’s top flight last season with 26 goals and scored 34 in total, including one in each leg of Benfica’s Champions League quarter-final with Liverpool.
His arrival on a six-year contract should clear the way for Sadio Mané to join Bayern Munich. Talks are continuing over a transfer for the Senegal forward who has indicated he wants a new challenge.
The initial fee for Núñez will be £64m but that fee could rise to £85m should he reach certain milestones in his Liverpool career, including winning the Champions League. The signing is subject to international clearance and work-permit approval.
Liverpool see the signing as a statement of intent in their attempt to challenge Manchester City for the Premier League title and is another feather in the cap for the new sporting director, Julian Ward, who moved quickly to fend off interest from Manchester United.
Ward, who is stepping into the role vacated by the influential Michael Edwards, was a key player in the January recruitment of Luis Díaz and the club believe getting the deal done early will allow Núñez to settle in and enjoy a full pre-season.
The striker, who is expected to earn around £140,000 per week at Anfield, told the official club website: “I’m really happy and delighted to be here at Liverpool. It’s a massive club.
“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 at 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.”
Núñez will wear the No 27 shirt for Liverpool and becomes the third Uruguayan to sign for the club, following on from Luis Suárez and Sebastián Coates.
“When I arrived at the training ground, I was really surprised to see the set-up and the structure and all the trophies here,” he said. “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.”