Haaland vs Nunez! Man City star’s goal tally shows his pedigree but Liverpool ace boasts better form and his stock is on the rise… so who comes out on top in the £136m battle of the new boys?
- Manchester City finally announced the £51million signing of Erling Haaland
- Liverpool confirmed signing of Darwin Nunez from Benfica for club-record £85m
- Liverpool and City have both strengthened their squads to battle for the title
- As Haaland and Nunez prepare to go head-to-head, who wins the £136m battle?
The Premier League is set to have another rivalry next term after the top-flight’s giants confirmed the signings of Erling Haaland and Darwin Nunez on the same day.
Manchester City and Liverpool’s rivalry is set for another chapter next season after Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp both made moves to bolster their attacking ranks.
On Monday, City finally announced the signing of Haaland on a £51million deal, while in the early hours of the same day Benfica confirmed they had reached an agreement with Liverpool over the signing of Nunez, which was later confirmed by the Merseyside giants.
The Reds have attempted to lift the doom and gloom of Sadio Mane’s expected departure, while the reigning champions have finally secured an out-and-out striker.
Born just 13 months apart, both forwards possess the height – Haaland standing at 6ft 4in and Nunez at 6ft 2in – and the pace to create the next biggest City-Liverpool rivalry, following in the footsteps of the likes of Kevin De Bruyne v Mohamed Salah, Ederson v Alisson and Virgil van Dijk v Ruben Dias.
The transfer window’s blockbuster signings could decide the title next season but who comes out top in the £136m battle of the strikers? Sportsmail takes a look at who the statistics favour.
The Premier League may have a new rivalry in Darwin Nunez (left) and Erling Haaland (right)
Manchester City finally announced the £51million signing on Haaland on Monday
Jurgen Klopp (left) and Pep Guardiola (right) are preparing to battle for the title again
Both proved they have the potential to be prolific strikers in the English top flight as they were consistently on target in the Bundesliga and Primeira Liga respectively as well as the Champions League last season.
Haaland racked up 29 goals in 30 games across all competitions last season, almost averaging one goal a game.
Meanwhile, Nunez’s average output was a little lower but the Uruguay international still managed to find the net an impressive 34 times in 41 appearances.
Haaland’s tally was a lot lower than the previous season when he managed an insane 41 goals in as many games but he still excelled given he missed matches through injury.
This is how City’s striker and Liverpool’s forward performed last season – stats by SofaScore
The Uruguayan international managed to find the net an impressive 34 times in 41 games
Nunez’s season trended in the opposite direction as he dramatically increased on his tally of 13 from the season before, suggesting the 22-year-old’s stock is on the rise.
And under the instruction of Klopp, his attacking prowess is likely to go from strength to strength – provided he is not a one-season wonder.
The duo are also extremely evenly matched it terms of expected goals with Haaland just slightly edging out his new Liverpool counterpart.
Guardiola’s new weapon registered an expected goal rate of 21.72, whereas Nunez was just slightly lower with 21.48.
Again, however, Nunez has built upon his previous season when his xG was 13.97. whereas Haaland’s has diminished slightly after dropping from 30.34.
However, Nunez has the upper hand in terms of conversion rate as he pips Haaland with a rate of 31 per cent compared to 27 per cent.
Despite Haaland having limited game time last season, it suggests the 21-year-old may have already reached his best level, while Nunez is yet to hit his peak.
Although Klopp likes a flexible front three and is known to interchange his attacking trident, Nunez is expected to fill the central role Mane occupied for a majority of last season.
However, he does slot into the Reds boss’s fluid attacking style as he is able to play as a centre forward, left winger and second striker.
January signing Luis Diaz was bought to fill the spot on the left, meaning Nunez is likely earmarked for a central role.
The Uruguayan has the upper hand in terms of conversion rate against the Norwegian star
Nunez is expected to fill the central role that Sadio Mane (pictured) occupied last season
But Nunez has managed 10 goals and two assists for Benfica in the Portuguese top flight from a wider position on the left.
This adaptability offers Liverpool the benefit of having back-up on the left and increased options when it comes to front-three combinations.
Meanwhile, Haaland is very much a narrower player, dominating down the centre for Borussia Dortmund.
However, that will be of little concern to Guardiola who successfully led City to their fourth title in five years without a striker last season.
The Norwegian is now set to fill that void with City boasting more than enough talent to support Haaland from either side and undoubtedly provide a stream of chances for him to slot home.
Guardiola successfully led City to their fourth title in five years without a striker last season
Nunez’s performances last season, in particular against Liverpool in the Champions League, suggest he possesses the attributes needed to acclimatise to Klopp’s side.
At 6ft 2in, Nunez brings height and aerial ability to the Reds attack. In addition to his aerial presence, he is also strong – an attribute often overlooked among Liverpool’s front three due to their small stature.
But most significantly, Liverpool players’ commitment to pressing is a signature aspect of their game.
Nunez has proven he is willing to do the dirty work, which paid off in 35 chances created in 38 games across the Primeira Liga and the Champions League for his Benfica team-mates last season.
And he has shown he can not only create these chances but that he is also lethal when finishing them.
Meanwhile, despite often being seen as purely a clinical finisher, Haaland’s contributions to his team must not be overlooked.
Despite being a clinical finisher, Haaland’s contributions to his team must not be overlooked
He created 25 chances in 27 games across the Bundesliga and Champions League last season and could equally provide the same for City’s stars, which with the likes of Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez on the end of them could easily be converted.
Haaland certainly possesses a pedigree that Nunez doesn’t with two-and-a-half years in a big five league already under his belt at the age of 21.
Which brings into question the difference in fees. Liverpool are splashing out £85million to bring Nunez to Anfield whereas City’s move for Haaland can be seen as a steal at just £51m.
But Liverpool would not smash their club transfer record if they did not believe it was justified.
Haaland has two-and-a-half years in a big five league already under his belt at the age of 21
Klopp, along with former transfer guru Michael Edwards, has developed a reputation for securing bargains in the market and for Liverpool to spend that much on a player – more than defensive colossus Van Dijk – suggests the Reds boss believes he is worth every penny.
Furthermore, with pedigree could come pressure. Haaland’s move to City will come with expectation and while Nunez’s will too, it is unlikely to reach the same levels.
Liverpool prefer to give their players time to adjust. Andy Robertson took a season to hit his peak, while the Reds likely haven’t seen the best of Diaz yet either – despite the Colombian scoring six goals and registering five assists since his January arrival.
Liverpool have smashed their club transfer record to bring the 22-year-old to Anfield
It might not be raining goals for Nunez straight away but is sure to open the dam under the tenure of Klopp.
Both players have excelled in Germany and Portugal respectively but now they must prove they can do it on the Premier League stage.
Haaland’s impressive goal-per-game ratio backs his pedigree but Nunez edged him out in conversion rate and goal tally last season and is on an upwards trajectory that is likely to rocket with Klopp and Co.
Their statistics back up their price-tags but the real test will come when they battle each other for the title next season.
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