Darwin Gabriel Núñez Ribeiro (born 24 June 1999) is a Uruguayan professional footballer who plays as a forward for Premier League club Liverpool and the Uruguay national team.
Núñez came through Peñarol’s youth academy, being promoted to the first-team in 2017. In August 2019, he joined Spanish Segunda División side Almería. Benfica signed him in 2020 for a club-record transfer worth €24 million, the most expensive signing in Portuguese football history.
Liverpool signed him in 2022 for £64 million, which could potentially rise to £85 million.
After representing Uruguay at various youth levels, Núñez was called up to the full international side for the first time in October 2019. He scored on his international debut against Peru.
Núñez is a right-footed player, he possesses an athletic frame, excellent acceleration and sprinting speed is the defining facet of his athletic skillset, with his explosive change of pace being capable of creating immediate separation. He also has good awareness, he scans space and makes decisions when moving relative to the ball, space, team-mates and opponents. Núñez is a disruptive striker with a dynamic range of mobility that can carry counter-attacks, makes incisive movements around the box, and strike the ball explosively. He is adept at attacking open spaces and is good at generating shots from varied situations. He is also a promising creator around the box and is also capable of playing as a left-winger.
Early Life and Career
Born in Artigas, Uruguay. Núñez joined Peñarol’s youth setup in 2013, aged 14. His first stay lasted only months, but he subsequently rejoined the club in 2014, and finished his formation.
Núñez spent the first months of 2017 nursing a knee injury. He made his first team – and Primera División – debut on 22 November 2017, coming on as a second-half substitute for Maxi Rodríguez in a 2–1 away loss against River Plate Montevideo, but had another knee surgery the following month.
Núñez scored his first professional goal on 13 October 2018, netting the opener in a 2–0 home defeat of Fénix. On 14 July 2019, he scored a hat-trick in a 4–0 routing of Boston River.
On 29 August 2019, Spanish Segunda División side Almería announced the signing of Núñez on a five-year deal, for a rumoured fee of US$4.5 million plus $1.5 million in variables. He made his debut on 3 October as a half-time substitute in 4–2 league defeat against Sporting de Gijón.
On 27 October 2019, starting for the first time, Núñez scored first goal for his new club in a 3–2 home win against Extremadura with a penalty. He finished his only season at the Estadio de los Juegos Mediterráneos as the league’s joint fourth top scorer with 16 goals, led by compatriot Cristhian Stuani.
On 4 September 2020, Núñez signed a five-year contract with Portuguese club Benfica, who paid a club record fee of €24 million for the player. This was also Almeria’s and the Segunda División’s biggest transfer, with the club also receiving 20% of a future transfer. Eleven days later, he made his debut for the club in a 2–1 loss against PAOK for the 2020–21 UEFA Champions League third qualifying round replacing Pedrinho in the 65th minute of the game.
With his assist in a 3–0 win over Rio Ave on 18 October, he reached five assists in his first four league games, best in the league. On 22 October, he scored his first goals for the club with a hat-trick against Lech Poznań in a 4–2 away victory in a 2020–21 UEFA Europa League group stage match. Four days later, he scored his first Primeira Liga goal in a 2–0 home victory over B SAD.
On 3 December, after three weeks off from COVID-19, he returned to action against Lech Poznań in the Europa League group, scoring Benfica’s second goal in a 4–0 home victory. He struggled over the course of the season with the effects of COVID-19 and various injuries, and did not score for four months. He scored six league goals and provided ten assists – second-best in the league – helping Benfica to a third-place finish and qualification for the Champions League third qualifying round.
In May 2021, Núñez underwent surgery due to an injury on his right knee, forcing him to miss Benfica’s first months of the new season. He made his return from injury on 21 August, replacing Everton in the 72nd minute, in a 2–0 away victory over Gil Vicente, being booked in the process. Following back-to-back braces against Santa Clara and Boavista in the Primeira Liga, he was named the league’s Player of the Month and Forward of the Month for September. On 29 September, he scored his first two UEFA Champions League goals in a 3–0 home victory over Barcelona, and was named man of the match.
On 27 November, he scored his first hat-trick in the league as his team finished the first half at B SAD 7–0 up, though the game was abandoned early in the second half due to insufficient players on the COVID-affected host team; on 12 December he added another treble against Famalicão in a 4–1 away win, becoming the seventh player in the league to score back-to-back hat-tricks. Three days later, Núñez scored two goals in a 3–0 home win over Sporting da Covilhã to send his team into the semi-finals of the 2021–22 Taça da Liga. While on international duty for Uruguay, Benfica were defeated 2–1 by crosstown rivals Sporting CP in the final.
On 27 February, Núñez scored his 20th league goal for Benfica (in 20 matches) in a 3–0 home victory against Vitória de Guimarães in the Primeira Liga. On 15 March, in the second leg of Champions League round-of-16, Núñez scored the only goal in a 1–0 away win over Ajax to ensure his team qualification to the quarter-finals, securing a 3–2 aggregate win in the process. On 9 April, Núñez scored his third hat-trick of the season in a 3–1 victory against B SAD, bringing his total goal count for the season to 31 goals. Núñez scored three goals against Liverpool in the 2021–22 UEFA Champions League quarter-finals: one in the first leg and two in the second leg, despite having another two goals ruled out by VAR. However, Benfica were eliminated after losing to Liverpool 6–4 aggregate; his sixth goal in the competition, made him Benfica’s all time top scorer in the current Champions League format, surpassing Nuno Gomes record of five goals set in the 1998–99 season.
On 13 June 2022, Benfica reached an agreement with Premier League team Liverpool for the transfer of Núñez for a €75 million fee plus €25 million in add-ons. The following day, the club confirmed the deal, for £64 million, with add-ons potentially increasing the fee to £85 million at a later date.
Núñez is a former Uruguay youth international and was part of under-20 team squad which finished third in 2019 South American U-20 Championship.
He also took part of the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup, scoring in the opening match in a 3–1 over Norway and the opening goal in a 2–0 over New Zealand in the final group match, to help Uruguay finish top of Group C. His country was eliminated from the tournament following a 1–3 loss against Ecuador in the round of 16.
He was also part of under-22 team squad which finished fourth at 2019 Pan American Games.
Núñez was called up to the senior team for friendlies against Costa Rica and the United States in September 2019. He made his international debut that 16 October in a 1–1 draw away to Peru in another exhibition, replacing Brian Lozano in the 75th minute of the game and scoring five minutes later.
In June 2021, Núñez was included in the final 26-man Uruguay squad for the 2021 Copa América in Brazil. Due to a right knee injury that would rule him out for two months, he missed the tournament.
Wife/ Girlfriend and Children
Núñez is in a relationship with Lorena Mañas, both announced the birth of their first child, a son also named Darwin, born on 3 January 2022.
Net Worth and Salary
Darwin Núñez earns €20,000 weekly playing for Benfica.
Darwin Núñez’s net worth as of 2022 is estimated at around $1.5 million – $10 million.
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