The Premier League Champions are now into their second season without a recognised striker and following a failed pursuit of Tottenham’s Harry Kane and their subsequent decision to pass on the opportunity to sign Cristiano Ronaldo, are once again relying on the manager’s false nine formula with stop-gap replacements.
City have now been linked with Benfica’s sensational rising striker Darwin Núñez, after scouts from the Etihad were spotted at a recent Champions League game against Barcelona, and that appearance may have been a consequence of a very special request by Pep Guardiola himself.
Núñez has been linked with the Etihad club on a few occasions prior to this, and Manchester City’s desperate need for a striker means he will surely be on Txiki Begiristain’s shortlist ahead of upcoming transfer windows.
Confirming suspicions after Manchester City’s scouts were spotted at Estádio da Luz, according to an exclusive report by the Daily Star, Manchester City believe they 'hold the edge' in the race for Benfica's Darwin Núñez.
A number of top European clubs - namely Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, and Bayern Munich - are in line for the 22-year-old’s signature after his recent exploits, but the Premier League Champions believe they are in the front seat owing to their ‘superb relationship’ with the Portuguese club in the transfer market.
Manchester City have a number of former Benfica graduates in the current first-team set-up, with goalkeeper Ederson and primary centre back Ruben Dias being two mega buys in the last four years.
The leadership at the Etihad Stadium is believed to have alerted Benfica that they are keen on Núñez, should he be available. The striker reportedly has a buy-out clause worth £125 million, but City are optimistic of landing the Uruguay international at a discounted price of £70 million, if and when Benfica are ready to do business.
Núñez, who has so far scored six goals in seven games this season, with two of them in a sensational upstaging of Barcelona in the Champions League, has a contract until June 2025.
The 6’2 striker has an excellent aerial reach, serious speed and enough physical strength with an eye for a goal backed up by his tally of 20 goals and twelve assists since joining the Portuguese club a year ago.
"Unfortunately for me, maybe I will lose him in a short time," Benfica boss Jorge Jesus said, admitting to the fact that he would have to let go of the sensational striker sooner than expected, but sent out a note of caution.
"He was Benfica's most expensive purchase, and when there is no pandemic, he will be the most expensive sale. He will be a world-class player,” the Benfica boss added.
In spite of his current club's excellent relations with Manchester City being a favourable factor, Núñez faces tough competition from the likes of Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland and Fiorentina's Dusan Vlahovic if he wants to end up at the top of Txiki Begiristain's list.
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