On 24 November 2021, Luis Díaz arrived at Anfield to face Liverpool in the colors of FC Porto. The Primeira Liga side may have lost 2-0 on the night, but Diaz certainly made an impression. Indeed, a little over two months later, he was Red.
Diaz really should have had help after a square of the ball Otávio, but his teammate did not convert 0.8 xG chance. Beyond that, no Porto player made or received more progressive passes, nor did any of his colleagues record more successful dribbles during the 90 minutes. He was the shining light in defeat.
Diaz and Porto have already faced Liverpool on matchday two of the Champions League group stage in September, but that was his first Anfield experience. And besides being impressive, he was impressed.
“You can really feel the atmosphere of how the crowd lives for the game,” Diaz said after he joined. He expressed his excitement at the prospect of wearing a red shirt on a European night at the famous stadium.
The Colombian was also left with a warm view of Jürgen Klopp. “You could say he’s a good man, not just on the football side of things,” he remarked.
The admiration was mutual, with Klopp struck by how well Diaz performed against his side. “When we played against Louis earlier this season,” the German recalled, “we saw how dangerous he was, how fast he was and how his mindset was to help his team.”
In a way, therefore, meeting a transfer target in Díaz was very good for Liverpool. For the player, it was a glimpse of life at Anfield and an opportunity to interact with a larger-than-life figure in Klopp. This was a pitch in itself.
And equally, the manager and his staff were able to investigate him first hand. Their previous suspicions were confirmed before their eyes: Diaz would be a success at Liverpool.
And a similar story may already be playing out. In the quarter-finals of the Champions League, Liverpool faced off Darwin Núñez and Benfica, Porto’s home rivals.
Núñez scored the sixth and final goal in a 3-3 second-leg draw at Anfield, stroking the ball beyond onrushing. Alisson with precision. He had already won the first match, taking advantage of an Ibrahima Konaté error and ending up close, and would have had a third against the Reds if Alisson had not made an outstanding save from his late volley.
In addition to his goal, Núñez has won six of the eight matches he has contested, has shown his physical fitness for Premier League football and has worked tirelessly out of possession. Even before the final whistle went, many Liverpool fans demanded that he be caught.
Klopp has already squandered praise for the Uruguayan. “A very handsome boy and a decent player too!” he joked. “He played almost in front of me in these difficult battles with Konaté.
“Physically strong, fast, calm around his end. Good, really good. ”
Klopp added that if Núñez “stays healthy”, he has “a great career ahead of him”. But could he spend much of that career at Liverpool?
Núñez was evaluating his chances and, according to a report by The Independent on Friday, his preference up to this point was to join Liverpool. He is also ready to listen to a proposal from Manchester Unitedbut it seems he is being courted by the environment and the staff at Liverpool in the same way as Diaz.
Benfica’s alleged £ 100 million price tag is alarming, but Liverpool will certainly be able to negotiate that down. Even then, of course, they may have to break their transfer record to sign the 22-year-old, but Fenway Sports Group has already shown that they will shoot out for a generational game changer. With 34 goals in 41 games last season, including six in the Champions League, Núñez could rightly fit that bill.