The deal that never was: How Nunez could have fit Man United
- Liverpool have agreed to a deal of around 100 million euros with Benfica for Darwin Nuñez
- Nunez is a 22 year old striker from Uruguay, and played for SL Benfica from 2020-22
- He scored 34 goals last season
The name Darwin Nuñez has been on everyone’s lips since the Uruguayan youngster burst into the scene this season with Benfica with his goalscoring exploits. He particularly shone in both legs of the Champions League quarter-finals against Liverpool, when he forced the English giants to sit up and take notice. Liverpool has consequently made Nuñez their second signing of the summer, after having already snapped up Fabio Carvalho from Fulham early on.
But Liverpool were not the only English giants out there seeking his services. Indeed, it was their nemesis from the Northwest- Manchester United, that had also earmarked him as a possible spearhead of their attack, as they hope to catch up with their rivals at the sharp end of the Premier League this season.
However, unfortunately for the Red Devils, yet another player has now officially chosen Merseyside over Manchester- after similar recent transfers have seen the likes of Thiago Alcantara and Fabinho pick the all-red of Liverpool over the red-and-white of United.
Also read: Who is Darwin Nunez?
It might be argued that Manchester United is already stocked to the brim with attacking options. And yet, a closer look reveals that all is not well with United's attack- Edinson Cavani is now belatedly gone, Greenwood has all but ended his career with the serious rape allegations against him, and Martial can safely be considered as dead wood, after his shockingly poor loan spell at Sevilla. Closer home in the squad, Marcus Rashford has looked like a dead man walking at times last season and looked a far cry from the pacy, direct player who was once expected to dominate English football for a long time to come. United have ended up relying on 37-year-old superstar Cristiano Ronaldo for the bulk of their attacking output- in one word, shambolic!
In this scenario, it is extremely easy to see how someone like Darwin Nuñez could have been a breath of fresh air for this stale, aged attack. For starters, Nuñez has already displayed his versatility and thrived in a variety of systems, whether playing as an inside forward in a 3-4-3 or 4-3-3, or as a more conventional striker in a 4-4-2 and 3-4-3 formation- something that incoming manager Eric Ten Haag would have cherished. He is a fox-in-the-box with his constant relentless movement, and this ensures that he is always able to drift into the box even when starting out wide, and hurt the opposition where it matters most. Standing tall at 6'2" Nuñez is blessed with the physicality needed to thrive in the premier league, and he has shown that he is capable of positioning himself intelligently and using this physicality to bring other teammates into play when on the counter-attack. For a team like Manchester United that has always seemed to possess an incisive counter-attack in its armoury, Nuñez' skills might have been gold-dust.
Relentlessness and tenacity are the hallmarks of Darwin's game and would have been specific traits that Ten Haag would have enjoyed as he looks to stamp his authority and philosophy of football on this presently bruised and lacklustre United squad. Indeed United is in severe need of players with simply the desire and will to compete, and a young hungry Uruguayan forward with still a lot to prove to this world might have been the ideal way to kickstart a new era for Manchester United. Thanks to Liverpool’s decisive business at the start of this transfer window, we will never know.