Despite interest from Manchester United, arch rivals Liverpool won the race to sign Benfica’s Darwin Nunez, one of the hottest young strikers on the market, making him the club’s record buy in the process. But that would not have been the case if not for a cancelled meeting with Benfica president Rui Costa due to food poisoning.
According to The Athletic, the Red Devils had held discussions with the Portuguese giants and were set to meet with Costa to discuss terms of the potential move.
That fateful meeting was supposed to be held prior to the Champions League quarter-final tie involving Liverpool and Benfica.
However, the former Portugal international and his family were struck down with a severe case of food poisoning while celebrating his birthday.
🚨 Manchester United believe Liverpool are making a mistake in signing Darwin Nunez and believe it is ‘reckless spending’ pic.twitter.com/h14aAcl3Yg
— SPORTbible (@sportbible) June 13, 2022
That ultimately led to that proposed meeting getting cancelled with United thinking it to be a snub of sorts and were left unconvinced at their chances of signing Nunez.
That ultimately allowed Liverpool a free run at their target with United not too keen to enter into a bidding war for the Uruguayan striker.
Ten Hag late arrival & preference
The former Almeria forward was supposedly available for around £45 million prior to Benfica reaching the knockout stages of the Champions League.
Other Premier League clubs like West Ham were also interested in acquiring the 22-year-old’s services but the Portuguese club were waiting for the valuation to rise.
And rise it did, with knockout goals against Jurgen Klopp’s side ultimately taking the price to £85million.
The 20-time English champions roped in Erik ten Hag who himself was a big admirer of the striker having seen him score against his former club Ajax.
However, by the time the Dutchman rocked up at Old Trafford, their Merseyside rivals were deep in negotiations with Benfica which meant the chances were already slim.
Add to that, Ten Hag’s prioritization of midfield recruits meant the three-time European champions fell too far behind. They are currently after Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong and free agent Christian Eriksen.
Nunez has since signed a six-year deal worth £150,000-a-week, while United are still trying to get their first signing over the line.