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Manchester United have already held discussions and internal meetings regarding the potential signing of Benfica frontman Darwin Nunez and the Uruguayan may just have worked his way towards the top of their summer shortlist following his eye-catching, two-goal showing against Liverpool. The Red Devils sent staff to watch the 22-year-old in action last week in Lisbon as he netted past Alisson with a neat finish in the second-half of the 3-1 defeat to Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Yet it was the relentless work rate and centre-forward play of Nunez that really left a lasting impression, particularly for a player still so young having only left South America in 2019.
Express Sport understands United have now cast an eye over Nunez more than 10 times this season with further scouting trips planned between now and the end of the campaign.
His qualities – which include lethal finishing, physical strength, immaculate hold-up play and cunning movement – now see him recognised as one of the most marketable strikers in all of world football.
That’s why United have already reached out to Benfica to sound out his price tag but understandably, they’re not alone in the race which is now starting to intensify.
Yet if United were determined to get their man and push ahead with a deal – they may have an unlikely advantage over fellow bidders.
Edinson Cavani is set to leave Old Trafford this summer after a disastrous second season at the club and effectively, any striker United sign will be acting as his replacement, despite his lack of minutes this season due to various injuries.
While Cristiano Ronaldo is expected to stay and fulfil the second year of his contract, there is an understanding that United need additional firepower that aligns with their forward planning for the future.
Nunez ticks both of those boxes and crucially, he is someone that knows Cavani very well from the Uruguay national team.
If United were to consult the departing veteran on his heir to the throne, there is no doubt that Cavani would be offering rave reviews of his compatriot.
But should they wish to, United could call upon Cavani as part of their bid to convince Nunez to choose Old Trafford over rival suitors.
Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain and Atletico Madrid have all been earmarked as potential destinations for the prolific striker, who now has 32 goals in all competitions.
Nunez, subject of a rejected £47m bid from West Ham on transfer deadline day in January, fits the profile of a vintage United No 9, a powerful, ruthless forward who loves to score goals and lead the line in exemplary fashion.
He was even showcasing another side to his game last night when he slotted in at left-wing at Anfield, tracking Mohamed Salah back during every wave of Liverpool attack.
Ultimately, Erik ten Hag is expected to have any final say over new signings once his appointment has been finalised.
But that bodes well for United after Nunez made it clear he will not think about his future until the conclusion of the current season.
“I won’t say anything until the last minute of this season,” he told reporters after the 3-3 draw between Liverpool and Benfica at Anfield.
Nunez looked a major threat throughout the contest as the Portuguese giants went in search of a memorable comeback.
After netting the equaliser on the night, the forward struck a sweetly-hit volley that forced Alisson into yet another fine save down to his right.
The confidence was clearly pumping through his veins as he showcased his credentials ahead of blockbuster summer transfer.
And if calling on Cavani is what it takes to sign a perfect replacement – that is exactly what United should do. This boy is not a player you want to miss out on, as you might well regret it…
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