Monday, August 15, 2022

Chelsea Join Race For This Benfica Sensation: Does Tuchel Really Need Him?

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Pratik Das
The youngest member of The 4th Official and an ardent Premier League fan who is basically obsessed with scouting young talents and is consumed by the idea of finding the perfect number 10.

Recent reports from the Portuguese newspaper Record (as cited by Sports Witness) claim that Chelsea have joined Manchester United, Manchester City, Atletico Madrid, Inter Milan, AC Milan and Paris Saint-Germain in the race to land Benfica striker Darwin Nunez.

The Eagles rejected a couple of offers from Premier League side Brighton & Hove Albion in the summer as their current plan is to let the 22-year-old’s market value inflate close to his release clause of €150m.

Nunez’s Rise To Fame

Having come through the ranks at Uruguayan club Penarol, Nunez signed for UD Almeria in August 2019. However, just a year later, he signed for Portugal giants Benfica for a club-record fee of €24 million (£21.8 million).

With 14 goals and 12 assists, it’d be an understatement to say that the Uruguay international had an excellent debut season with the Eagles. Even this term, he has managed to score six goals in eight appearances across all competitions. However, he’s in the headlines mainly due to his brace against Ronald Koeman’s Barcelona last Thursday.

Benfica's Darwin Nunez
LISBON, PORTUGAL – SEPTEMBER 29: Darwin Nunez of Benfica celebrates scoring the opening goal during the UEFA Champions League group E match between SL Benfica and FC Barcelona at Estadio da Luz on September 29, 2021 in Lisbon, Portugal. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
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The 22-year-old striker has managed to put some awe-inspiring numbers on the board this season – averaging 2.7 shots, 0.8 key passes, 1.5 dribbles and 0.8 tackles per ninety minutes in the Liga NOS. Furthermore, with an average WhoScored rating of 7.21, he has established himself as one of the best players in Portugal’s top-flight football.

Does Tuchel Really Need Him?

The same report from Record further states that Manchester City are presently in the pole position to land the highly-rated striker as they are without a natural number 9 at the moment.

The Citizens boast of a good relationship with the Portuguese club as well – having secured deals for Ederson Moraes, Ruben Dias and Nicolas Otamendi over the years.

On the other hand, Chelsea are stacked in the striker’s department with Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner. As a result, it’s pretty hard to imagine Darwin Nunez establish himself as a starter in Thomas Tuchel’s side as the competition is way too high. At 22, he might opt for some other place where regular game-time is guaranteed.

“Darwin is ready to play in any team on the globe,” his agent told FC Inter News.

“Various top-level teams have contacted us, but for the moment the head is on continuing and growing with Benfica and with the Uruguayan national team: this is how important things will come.”

(Stats from WhoScored)

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