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Erling Haaland v Darwin Nunez – How the Premier League’s new strikers match up
Haaland has joined Manchester City, while Nunez has arrived at Anfield.
Manchester City and Liverpool have boosted their forward lines for next season with the multi-million pound purchases of Erling Haaland and Darwin Nunez.
Both players are more of a traditional number nine, which is a slight departure for Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp from the tactics they have employed recently.
However, the Premier League’s top two sides acquiring genuine centre-forwards suggests their approaches will be tweaked for the coming season.
Here the PA news agency looks at what to expect from the duo.
Who has got the best deal?
On the face of it City. Haaland, at £51million, is cheaper, a year younger and has more of a proven pedigree, even at the age of 21. Haaland scored 86 goals in 89 matches for Borussia Dortmund and 29 in 27 for Red Bull Salzburg, as well as 20 in 21 for Norway. Nunez is more raw, with last season’s 34 in 41 matches for Benfica an indication of his potential, having only arrived in Europe from Uruguay in 2019.
Neither City nor Liverpool were short of firepower, so why the need for new strikers?
For City, their upgrade has come 12 months after backing away from solid interest in England captain Harry Kane due to his price tag. Guardiola persisted primarily with a false nine, rotating between the likes of Raheem Sterling, Bernardo Silva and Phil Foden, with Gabriel Jesus infrequently used, but an out-and-out goal-scorer like Haaland will offer a different, more traditional option. Mohamed Salah provided the weight of Liverpool’s goals, but, when his form started to dry up in the final three months of the season, Sadio Mane and Diogo Jota both had good scoring spells. However, Klopp’s side played in three finals, winning two, without scoring in normal time in any of them, despite creating a host of chances.
Who has the easier job fitting in?
Haaland, with his experience in the Bundesliga, is likely to be thrown straight in as the number nine and expected to maintain his remarkable ratio of goals to games. In a City side which scored 99 times in the Premier League last season he will get a multitude of chances and it would be surprising for him not to remain prolific. Nunez will benefit from a full pre-season with his new club, but Klopp has often been reluctant to push new signings straight into the action, although January arrival Luis Diaz was a rare exception to that. The likely departure of Mane opens up a space on the forward line, but Nunez, at least early on, could find himself competing with Jota and Roberto Firmino for the central role, especially as Klopp himself said the player was “a work in progress”.