DARWIN NUNEZ is the £64million striker who is on course to become the most expensive player in Liverpool’s history.
And Benfica will be delighted if Nunez takes the Premier League by storm, because that would force the Merseyside giants to hand over another £21.3m in add-ons.
Yet at his first club Penarol, in the Uruguayan capital of Montevideo, they are not cracking open the champagne.
There is real regret that they allowed Nunez to leave for Spanish side Almeria for just £5m three years ago.
Just 12 months later, he switched to Benfica in Portugal, with Almeria receiving £20m and now a further £15m as part of their sell-on clause.
Equally, there is a feeling of immense pride that Nunez, who struggled with home-sickness when moving to Montevideo from his home city of Artigas aged 14, is proving to be a success.
This player from humble beginnings is also revealed as a generous man who has not only bought his family a farmhouse but sent money to a hard-up student so he could continue his studies.
He is certain to feature at some stage against Manchester City in the Community Shield at Leicester today.
Rodolfo Catino, director of Penarol and former academy president, was one of those who discovered Nunez.
He told SunSport: “You could already see at 17 that he would go very far in football.
“When the transfer was made from Penarol to Almeria, I didn’t approve because I thought his valuation should have been much higher.
“Liverpool is a fertile ground for him to develop even more as a footballer. He already did that at Benfica and Darwin has no limits.
“Of course, he’ll have to adapt, as it won’t be easy at the beginning but then he will show all his ability.
“From 2009 we brought players who had developed in towns outside the capital.
“Darwin was brought into our framework of training sessions carried out in the city of Artigas in 2013, where we got together with our scout Jose Perdomo.
“He spent a year at Penarol, playing in the seventh division at the age of 14.
“But he missed his family and the customs of the people of Artigas and returned home.
“We didn’t want to lose him and, after a few months, we went to get him again and he returned to Penarol. His older brother, Junior Nunez, was also playing in the development leagues.
“But Darwin always stood out a lot, showing himself to be a great player and an excellent striker.
“With that scenario, Penarol helped his family to relocate to Montevideo so that Darwin would feel more comfortable.”
A youth coach and scout, Perdomo previously played for Genoa in Italy and also the Uruguayan national team.
THE OTHER NUNEZ
He said: “Previously, we’d brought Junior Nunez, Darwin’s brother, to Penarol.
“Junior was without doubt a great player and for family reasons he didn’t continue at the club. At that time, another scout invited me to travel to Artigas to observe different youth players, among whom was Darwin.
“It wasn’t easy to get him out of Artigas, as his mother had her opinion.
“She said that Junior was already in Montevideo and didn’t want us to take Darwin away from her as well. But we managed to persuade her and he travelled to Montevideo.
“When he succeeded in reaching Penarol’s first team, he started getting injury problems.
“They had to operate on his knee, so they sent him back to the youth divisions where I had him and tried to help him, more than anything with his state of mind.
“He was always a very committed player and we managed to get him to recover and return to the Primera Division.
“He’s a player who has won everything through great effort. His path to where he is now has not been an easy one.”
Monty Suarez is a TV and radio journalist from Artigas and owner of radio station Portal FM 98.1.
His son played in Artigas’ infants’ team with Nunez, so has known Liverpool’s new signing since he was five.
Suarez said: “At the age of 13, Darwin went to play for Club San Miguel. Then, at 14, he went to play for the youth team of Penarol, where he went through all the levels until he reached the Primera Division.
“His parents moved to Montevideo to accompany him. Then, when he was transferred to Spain and then to Benfica in Portugal, the whole family started to live in a different way.
“Darwin bought them a farmhouse six miles away from Artigas, where his parents went to live. He also bought a car for his parents. He also bought a house for his brother Junior.
“Now, with his transfer to Liverpool, Darwin is thinking of buying other properties as an investment.
“Recently, he learned that a young guy had difficulty in continuing with his studies, so he sent the money needed to solve the situation.
“Darwin is very sensitive to people’s difficulties. He remembers everything that happened in his childhood and adolescence and is always willing to give help to the most needy inhabitants of Artigas.”