Benfica’s Darwin Nunez has been linked with a move to Liverpool in the upcoming summer transfer window amid speculation surrounding Sadio Mane’s future.
After the UEFA Champions League final defeat, Mane expressed his desire to move away from Liverpool this summer, with Bayern Munich currently monitoring the Senegalese stars’ situation. The German champions are believed to have offered £ 25 million including add-ons for Mane, but the Echo understands Liverpool swiftly rejected this offer.
With it looking increasingly likely that Mane won’t be at Anfield next season, a replacement will be needed, with Nunez identified as a potential replacement. The Uruguayan forward grabbed 34 goals in 41 appearances, whilst also impressing in the 3-3 draw at Anfield in the Champions League quarter-final in April.
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Benfica’s Darwin Nunez has emerged as one of the players on Liverpool’s shortlist if Mane was to depart in the summer, with the Uruguayan having impressed against the Reds in Benfica’s 3-3 draw with Liverpool earlier this season. So, if Mane was to leave Liverpool ahead of the 2022/23 season, who could replace him?
We ‘signed’ Darwin Nunez as Liverpool’s Sadio Mane replacement
To set up this simulation, we used the Football Manager 2022 editor to arrange for Darwin Nunez to join Liverpool ahead of the 2022/23 season. We also arranged for Sadio Mane to join Bayern Munich for £ 45 million, whilst the likes of Divock Origi, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Takumi Minamino, Nat Phillips and Neco Williams all departed the club on permanent deals.
This is how Nunez got on in his first season at Anfield in our 2022/23 season simulation. With Mane leaving, Nunez was used as the Reds’ central striker by Jurgen Klopp, with Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino playing second fiddle.
Overall, Nunez made 48 appearances in all competitions for Liverpool, with 47 of those being starts. In those appearances, Nunez scored 20 goals and registered nine assists, with the Uruguayan scoring 17 goals and registering five assists in the Premier League. Only Erling Haaland scored more Premier League goals than Nunez in this simulated campaign.
Salah did outscore Nunez, but only Luis Diaz could come close to his goal tally across the attackers. Such was Nunez’s form, Jota only made eight starts in all competitions, with Firmino only making six starts.
At the end of the 2022/23 season, Football Manager 2022 put together an overall best Liverpool XI, based on performances, statistics and other metrics. This is what the Reds’ best XI looked like at the end of the 2022/23 season as predicted by Football Manager 2022:
Full Liverpool best XI (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Van Dijk, Matip, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Thiago; Salah, Nunez, Diaz.
So, how did Klopp’s side perform in the league and cup competitions after signing Nunez ahead of the 2022/23 season? Let’s take a look.
Liverpool’s results with Nunez in the 2022/23 simulation
Nunez’s biggest individual contribution came in the Champions League, with the forward scoring in the Champions League final, which Liverpool won 3-1. Salah opened the scoring against Juventus, with Diaz making it two and Nunez finishing off the Italian side with a third just after the half-time break.
Liverpool weren’t great in the domestic cup competitions, going out of the FA Cup in the Third Round and out of the Carabao Cup in the Fourth Round, but a Champions League trophy more than made it up for it!
In the Premier League, Nunez’s arrival kept Liverpool in the hunt for the title, even after the departure of Mane. But Manchester City pipped Klopp’s side once again, with Haaland’s arrival making a big impact. Liverpool managed to outscore City, but nine draws in 38 games cost them crucial points in the title race, with Chelsea and Tottenham close behind.
Overall this Football Manager 2022/23 season simulation predicts that Nunez’s arrival could at least help Liverpool maintain their current level of performance, even with Mane’s departure, with the Reds winning the Champions League at the end of the campaign.
However, City’s purchase of Haaland saw them go to another level, which suggests Liverpool may need to strengthen in other areas to be able to compete in the Premier League.
Would you like to see Liverpool sign Nunez this summer? Let us know in the comments!