Liverpool will prioritise ‘better value’ transfer targets over entering a bidding war with rivals Manchester United for Darwin Nunez. That is according to Liverpool.com, who claim the Reds are prepared to repeat former sporting director Michael Edwards’ stance and avoid overpaying for the Benfica star.
Sadio Mane’s bombshell on his future following the Champions League final defeat has left Jurgen Klopp scouring the transfer market for a replacement. The Senegal international has one year left on his contract at Anfield, and has been heavily linked with a switch to Bayern Munich.
Mane returned from the African Cup of Nations triumph and shone in an unfamiliar central role, with Golden Boot winner Mo Salah and January signing Luis Diaz on either flank. The 30-year-old was Liverpool’s top scorer in the second-half of the season, and his expected departure leaves Klopp searching for a high-calibre forward capable of playing across the frontline.
However, the problem for Liverpool is the daily headlines surrounding Mane’s desire for a new challenge has put selling clubs on alert to take advantage. Regardless of whether the Reds bank in excess of £35 million for the former Southampton forward, they will almost certainly have to contend with inflated price tags as a result.
The Times report the Liverpool hierarchy have been impressed by Nunez, and are keen to bring the forward to Anfield next season. However, the Premier League runners-up are not prepared to seal the deal ‘at any cost’.
Liverpool have already shown restraint this summer, with the club refusing to match Real Madrid in the pursuit of France international Aurelien Tchouameni. The Monaco midfielder has reportedly agreed a switch to the Champions League holders in a deal said to be worth up to £85 million.
Julian Ward is facing up to the unenviable task of replacing Edwards as the sporting director at Anfield, and hopes of a quiet introduction to the role have been shattered by Mane’s desire to leave. Ward’s predecessor was widely praised for his nuanced role in the club’s recruitment, which helped Klopp’s side compete with Manchester City at the summit.
Diogo Jota’s signing in September 2020 was an example of Edwards’ steadfast refusal to pay over the odds. Liverpool moved for the Wolves forward rather than matching Timo Werner’s release clause at RB Leipzig, with the Portugal international going on to consistently impress for Klopp’s side.
And the latest reports suggest this is an approach Ward is prepared to replicate ahead of the anticipated bidding war for Nunez. The Benfica forward is viewed as a viable replacement for Mane, but the Reds have already shortlisted several more affordable alternatives to fill the void.