Several top European clubs – including Manchester United – are reportedly interested in signing Darwin Nunez after scoring 34 goals for Portuguese side Benfica this season.
Manchester United are reportedly interested in signing Benfica striker Darwin Nunez and could offer him their two preferred shirt numbers if he moves to Old Trafford this summer.
The 22-year-old Uruguay international has been in fine form this season, scoring 34 club goals in all competitions. Several top European clubs are believed to be interested in signing him, including United, Liverpool, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain.
The Red Devils lack the lure of Champions League football to lure Nunez to Old Trafford after finishing sixth in the Premier League, although they could offer him the No9 or No21 if he joins the ambitious new team of Erik ten Hag.
The No.21 will become a free agent at United when Edinson Cavani’s contract expires at the end of this month. Nunez’s compatriot leaves Old Trafford after a nightmarish campaign, scoring just two goals in all competitions. He managed 17 the previous season.
The No.21 is special for Nunez as he wore it at Almeria in 2019-20 – a breakthrough season for the youngster. He scored 16 league goals in Spain’s second tier to persuade Benfica to pay him a club record €24m (around £20.6m) in September 2020.
As for United’s No.9, current starter Anthony Martial is set to leave the club this summer. The 26-year-old, who has two years left on his current contract, spent the second half of last season on loan at Sevilla – scoring just once in 12 appearances.
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Sevilla are not keen on making Martial’s transfer permanent but they are still expected to find a new club. United legend Gary Neville has urged his former employers to sell the Frenchman in December so both sides can get a fresh start.
“I think if they can get a lot of money for him, I would,” Neville said. “I probably would have said that if they could have gotten a lot of money for him this summer, with the players they have, then yes, I would. I think now is the time.
“I think they were always worried about getting burned. That he left for £25m and then became a £100m player because he has a special talent.
“I just don’t think he will ever work at Old Trafford, as they have [Marcus] Rashford, [Cristiano] Ronaldo and Cavani, other players too. I just think now is the time for him to leave and go and play regular football. I think it’s the right time.”
Martial’s departure would allow Nunez to take the No.9 shirt, his current number at Benfica and his first position. The Uruguayan has also worn the shirt internationally and would follow in the footsteps of some iconic players by taking the shirt.
The likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Andy Cole and Dimitar Berbatov have all worn the No9 at Old Trafford in their Premier League days. Other possible shirt numbers include No.6, No.8, No.14 and No.24 – although Bruno Fernandes is believed to be after No.8.