We ‘signed’ Darwin Nunez for Man United this summer and he replaced Cristiano Ronaldo

Darwin Nunez is being linked with a move to Manchester United this summer, following the striker’s recent display against Liverpool in the Champions League.

The Benfica striker recently hired a new agent and has been linked with a move to Old Trafford this summer. Nunez has scored 28 goals in 35 appearances in all competitions this season, including goals against Liverpool, Ajax, Bayern Munich and Barcelona in the Champions League.

Benfica could let the 22-year-old leave this summer, with a host of top European clubs in the queue for his signature. United are in desperate need of reinforcements throughout the squad, but with Marcus Rashford out of form and Edinson Cavani expected to leave at the end of the season, Nunez could be the perfect solution for the Reds.

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So, if Nunez was to make the move to United in the summer, what sort of impact could he have at Old Trafford? Could the Uruguayan striker help United win a trophy next season and close the gap to Manchester City and Liverpool? We simulated the 2022/23 season with Nunez in United’s squad and this is what happened.

We ‘signed’ Darwin Nunez for Man United in the summer transfer windows

To set up this simulation, we used the Football Manager 2022 editor to arrange for Nunez to join United and Erik ten Hag to become United manager at the start of the 2022/23 season, using FM22 to run the simulation. This is what Nunez’s in-game profile looks like on FM22.

Darwin Nunez’s in-game profile on Football Manager 2022.

The Uruguayan is a tall, physical striker with brilliant pace and strength that allows him to lead the line on his own, or alongside a partner. At just 22-years-old, there is plenty of potential for Nunez to improve on his already well-rounded attributes with good Finishing (13), Long Shots (13), Jumping Reach (15), Passing (12), Vision ( 15), Work Rate (17) and Teamwork (16) for a young striker.

So what happened? Well, Nunez was brilliant. The forward scored a total of 27 goals and registered eight assists in 57 appearances in all competitions during his debut season at Old Trafford. The 22-year-old was the club’s top goalscorer and recorded 24 goal contributions in his 38 Premier League games.

Darwin Nunez's statistics for United in the 2022/23 season.
Darwin Nunez’s statistics for United in the 2022/23 season.

Nunez showed his ability to score goals from half chances, almost doubling his Premier League xG (expected goals) rating with his 17 goals in the top flight. The Uruguayan striker averaged a match rating of 7.38 in all competitions, bettered only by Bruno Fernandes (7.56) and Jadon Sancho (7.43), highlighting Nunez’s importance of him in the team and his consistent, quality performances of him as a striker.

Nunez demonstrated his ability to press and defend from the front with a tackle success rate of 58% in all competitions, whilst also showing that he is capable of contributing in possession with a pass completion rate of 84%.

At the end of the 2022/23 season, Football Manager 2022 put together an overall best Manchester United XI, based on performances, statistics and other metrics. This is what the United best XI looked like at the end of the 2022/23 season as predicted by Football Manager 2022.

Manchester United's best XI in the 2022/23 season.
Manchester United’s best XI in the 2022/23 season.

Full United best XI (4-3-3): De Gea; Dalot, Varane, Maguire, Shaw; Rice, Milinkovic-Savic, Fernandes; Sancho, Adeyemi, Nunez.

Ten Hag was backed in the transfer market as Declan Rice (£108million), Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (£60million) and Karim Adeyemi (£46million) all joined Nunez in arriving at Old Trafford in the summer transfer window. Cristiano Ronaldo departed the club to join Paris Saint-Germain, whilst Paul Pogba and Edinson Cavani left on free transfers.

So, how did United get on in the Premier League and cup competitions with Nunez in the squad? Let’s take a look.

Manchester United’s performance in all competitions

Manchester United finished fourth in the Premier League.
Manchester United finished fourth in the Premier League.

United finished fourth in the Premier League, qualifying for Champions League football in the 2023/24 season after finishing outside the top four before Pochettino and Nunez arrived at the club. The Reds finished 12 points behind champions Man City, whilst having the third-best defensive record in the division with just five defeats in their 38 league games.

United’s inability to hold onto leads led to the club falling away from the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool and City, suggesting defensive reinforcements would be needed if United were to compete for titles once again. Compared to the 2020/21 season, Ten Hag’s side finished two positions lower, but with three more points and a better goal difference by +7 (+36).

Manchester United's performance in all cup competitions.
Manchester United’s performance in all cup competitions.

In the cup competitions, United finished the season on a positive note, lifting the Europa League trophy after a 2-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen thanks to goals from Jadon Sancho and Bruno Fernandes. In the domestic cup competitions, United suffered defeat in the Carabao Cup semi-final to Spurs and in the FA Cup quarter-final to fierce rivals Man City.

Overall, this Football Manager simulation predicts that if United were to sign Nunez ahead of the 2022/23 season, the 22-year-old could have a stellar debut season at Old Trafford, scoring 27 goals in all competitions and becoming the Reds’ main man in attack, supported by Sancho and Fernandes. Nunez and Ten Hag’s arrival could improve United’s overall points tally in the Premier League and bring positive performances, but they could need to strengthen their defense if they are to compete for titles in all competitions.

Would you like to see Darwin Nunez sign for Manchester United? Let us know in the comments!

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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