MERCATO LIVERPOOL: OVERPAYING FOR NUGGETS LIKE NÚÑEZ RATHER THAN EXTENDING OLD GLORIES LIKE MANÉ OR SALAH
On Tuesday, the Reds made official the recruitment of Darwin Núñez for nearly 100 million euros (75+25 bonus). A record sum for a club used in recent years to bet big on a name per summer. But, at the same time, Sadio Mané was not retained while Mo Salah is still waiting for his XXL extension. Proof that the Reds are apart?
Yes, it’s a lot. But it is normal. A lot because to pay almost 100 million euros (the 25 million in bonuses seem easily achievable) for Darwin Núñez, coming from Liga Sagres and with still limited international references, is excessive. But it is logical. In 2022, it is the price to pay to get ahead of the competition (Manchester United, Atlético de Madrid) around a young center forward who shone in the C1 and exceeded 30 goals in all competitions this season.
While Manchester City has made a huge move by attracting Erling Haaland, Liverpool has responded with Núñez. The two are not equal, of course. But the Uruguayan finally fits the habits of the Reds: young, with a certain margin of progress, with a tactical profile validated by Jürgen Klopp, between offensive support point and first harasser.
The Reds’ scouts have been following the kid’s performances since his first flashes of brilliance at Peñarol in the U19s. Proof that at Liverpool, they continue to remain faithful to a line of conduct that has proven itself. And probably made the Reds the most impressive club on the market over the past decade.
There have been cries of outrage after a mega transfer from Liverpool. Before Nunez, there was van Dijk. The profile was different, the certainties of the Reds similar. There was also Alisson (62.5M), Naby Keita (60M), Luis Diaz (47M) or Fabinho (45M). Expensive choices at the beginning but finally never doubtful. If the men change, the confidence in the methodology of recent years remains total.
SACROSANCT SALARY BALANCE
Because Liverpool benefits from the lucrative Premier League, because it remains one of the richest clubs in the world (4.1 billion dollars according to Forbes in 2022), because the sports project is clear and is already projected to 2026 with Klopp, the millions are simpler to align because easier to forget. So, even if it means overpaying Darwin Núñez a little bit to give himself some peace of mind, we might as well go for it. Because more than the 100 million in transfer fees, what has reassured Liverpool is undoubtedly the annual salary of 7.3 million euros, still far from the bosses of the dressing room.
Where PSG offered the biggest salary in history to Kylian Mbappé, where City offers more than 24 million annually to Kevin de Bruyne, Liverpool remains an “exception”. The quotation marks are in order: the Reds pay salaries in line with the standards of the biggest European clubs. The specificity of Liverpool is that no head really sticks out.
The highest paid man in the Jürgen Klopp dressing room? Virgil van Dijk at 13 million euros annually, followed by Mohamed Salah and Thiago Alcantara (12M). At City, none of them would be in the top 5 salary. At Manchester United neither. At Paris neither. At Real neither. This is the strength of Liverpool. But it can be a weakness when it comes to rewarding players who deserve better.
THE CASE OF SALAH WILL SAY A LOT ABOUT THE CONTINUATION
This is the case of Sadio Mané, who was undoubtedly pushed in his desire to leave by a neglected status at the Reds. Sportingly, media-wise but also politically. He is the 12th best paid man in the dressing room. At 30 years old, after having proved so much, he would have deserved to be aligned with the figures of his colleagues. But, in Liverpool, they are reluctant to extend at great expense, especially for thirty-year-olds. So, it is probably at Bayern Munich that the Senegalese will earn what Liverpool could not offer him. The Liverpool method is so made. Cruel but implacable.