When João Félix moved from Benfica to Atlético Madrid for a fee of €126m (£113m), there were plenty of eyebrows raised at the fee, despite the Portugal prodigy being incredibly highly-rated.
Three years on, Félix remains in the top three to five most expensive footballers of all time, depending on which reported transfer fees you use, but while he has ample talent, he is yet to properly and consistently fulfill it.
Offset by the sale of Rodri to Manchester City, Atlético actually ended up paying €6m more than Félix’s release clause to get their man and made a huge splash in the market by doing so.
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Just over 36 months on, Benfica have just been involved in another high-profile sale. Unlike with Porto, who were unable to negotiate too heavily for Luis Díaz because they needed the money in January, Liverpool have had to work hard to sign 22-year-old Uruguayan forward Darwin Núñez — but this week, they got their man.
Benfica are a team known for getting high prices, and not only for the likes of Félix. Manchester City paid around £60m for Rúben Dias in 2020, while three years earlier, Ederson (then only 23; a very young age for a goalkeeper) had cost almost £40m.
As far back as 2012, Zenit paid nearly £40m to sign Axel Witzel while Wolves paid £34m for Raúl Jiménez in 2019, a year after Barcelona had spent £32m on Nélson Semedo and Manchester United had spent similar on Victor Lindelöf. Ángel Di María cost Real Madrid £30m way back in 2010.
What is clear is that Benfica are tough negotiators and rarely let their players go for less than their true value. Around a year ago, then-Benfica manager Jorge Jesus claimed that it would be a bigger fee than what Félix cost to sign Núñez.
So while Liverpool have paid an initial £64m (rising to £85m including add-ons) for the 22-year-old, not only is he worth that, but they have done remarkably well to get him for that price.
If Liverpool are to end up paying the full price, they will be happy to do so. The clauses in the deal mean that they will have won major trophies if they do so — which in itself brings in at least as much revenue as it will cost.
While their deal for Núñez looks expensive at first glance, previous transfers involving Benfica put that into greater perspective. Add in the fact that the South American is on relatively very modest wages at Anfield, and the transfer could still prove to be bargain.