Jurgen Klopp’s private comment to Darwin Nunez as he’s set to replace Sadio Mane

Adel Taarabt says Jurgen Klopp commented “what a player” during a private chat with Darwin Nunez after Benfica’s Champions League quarter-final clash with Liverpool in April.

Nunez bagged an impressive 34 goals in all competitions this season – including in both legs of their European clash against the Reds at the quarter-final stage, taking his goal tally in the competition to six for the campaign – and Liverpool have now confirmed his arrival.

The Uruguayan international was always going to be one of Europe’s most sought-after strikers this summer after a sensational season in the Primeira Liga and Champions League and had been linked to a series of top European clubs. The Reds have now won the race and Nunez looks set to replace Sadio Mane at Anfield, with the Senegalese expected to depart in the coming weeks.

The out-going transfer persuaded the Reds to pay £64 million upfront for Nunez with a further £12.8 million in appearance-linked add-ons and an additional £8.5 million based on the forward performing in a successful team – taking the entire deal above the £85million mark. It will surpass the club’s current transfer record of £75million for signing Virgil van Dijk from Southampton in 2018.

Yet it has now been revealed how Klopp had kickstarted the interest in the striker as far back as that last-eight tie in the Champions League. Taarabt, who was playing for Benfica that day, has explained the conversation between the German and Nunez.

Taarabt explained: “He [Nunez] was fantastic in those two games. In the second leg, when he scored, [Klopp came up to him and said ‘What a player’. Liverpool had already come to get Luis Diaz from FC Porto, you can see how good he was.”

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Nunez scored in both legs of the last-eight tie against Liverpool


Nunez scored in both legs of the last-eight tie against Liverpool
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PA)

The Moroccan went on to explain Nunez’s style: “He is a mixture of [Edinson] Cavani and [Luis] Suarez. He is an aerial threat, comes from behind, he is a mixture of both players. When he arrived last season, nobody knew him well, he came for a high price and many were surprised. When we saw him in the first training session, we realized that he would be one of the best strikers in the world.”

Taarabt added: “I like selfish strikers, they just want to score. Darwin has it. If he doesn’t score, he will be dissatisfied, but he will work hard for the team. He’s in shape. It’s a machine. In the Premier League, he will score for sure.”

Julian Ward, Liverpool’s director of football, has been in Lisbon over the weekend to conclude the deal for the 22-year-old striker to bolster Klopp’s squad ahead of pre-season commencing.

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