Liverpool were among 35 clubs to have scouts watching Benfica’s 3-0 victory over Barcelona on Wednesday, with Uruguay striker Darwin Nunez one of the standouts.
As a top-level club with one of the most sophisticated recruitment teams in world football, Liverpool task scouts to watch a number of players across Europe every week.
The Reds employ over 20 first-team scouts, led by Dave Fallows and Barry Hunter, who work directly alongside sporting director Michael Edwards and his assistant Julian Ward.
It is no surprise, then, that many were in attendance at games across this week’s Champions League fixtures, with Dutch sources claiming Villarreal winger Arnaut Danjuma was one of those tracked.
While Danjuma was producing an excellent display in a 2-1 defeat to Man United, Benfica were presiding over another humbling defeat for Barcelona.
Barcelona have been in decline since before the humiliating loss to Liverpool in the Champions League semi-finals in 2019, but it seemingly cannot get much worse for the Spanish club at this stage under Ronald Koeman.
Koeman’s time as manager at the Nou Camp appears to be coming to an end, with a 3-0 loss away to Benfica on Wednesday night perhaps the final straw.
According to Merseyside journalist Melissa Reddy, Liverpool were one of 35 clubs to have scouts watching on as Nunez struck twice and Rafa Silva scored another in a rampant victory in Portugal.
The full list of scouts at Benfica’s 3-0 win over Barcelona pic.twitter.com/4di3jHIJuq
— Melissa Reddy (@MelissaReddy_) September 29, 2021
Bayern Munich, Juventus, Atletico Madrid, Man City, Roma and Chelsea were among the other heavyweights with a presence at the Estadio da Luz, along with lower-profile names such as Blackburn, Cologne, Mirandes and Estoril Praia.
It is unclear which players Liverpool would have been watching in particular, though Nunez certainly stands out as one of the most attractive prospects.
The 22-year-old Uruguayan opened the scoring in the third minute after surging onto Julian Weigl’s lofted pass, before cutting inside onto his right foot and firing low past Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
Nunez almost scored a replica of Roberto Firmino‘s bizarre goal against Porto as Ter Stegen raced out of his box mindlessly in the second half, and though he struck the post with his effort, the young striker made no mistake from the spot later on.
Prior to the game, Reddy outlined the many Portuguese talents on the radar of clubs such as Liverpool in a column for the Independent, and this game will only have strengthened the resolve of scouts.
There is a possibility, of course, that there will have been an eye on a Barcelona player, too – perhaps even 18-year-old midfielder Pedri, who is in the final year of his contract.
But realistically, there are few among Koeman’s squad in midweek that will pique enough interest to encourage a bid from Anfield, with Benfica the more convincing outfit by far.