By Concepcion M. Moreno
Montevideo, Jun 17 (EFE).- $50 million (47 million euros) in proceeds over four years for the sale of promising young players, including $12 million raked in over time for star forward Darwin Nuñez.
A three-time champion of the now-defunct Intercontinental Cup and five time champion of the Copa Libertadores, Uruguay’s Peñarol remains today an inexhaustible reservoir of talent and an exporter of high-quality players to deep-pocketed clubs all over the world.
Some of Uruguayan soccer’s most legendary figures, such as Fernando Morena and Diego Forlan, were part of that Montevideo club’s system early in their careers.
And now another former Manya could become the most expensive signing in the history of storied Premier League club Liverpool, who acquired him from Portugal’s Benfica for a fee that may rise with potential add-ons to as high as 85 million pounds (97 million euros).
Nuñez also now accounts for the single largest share of the Uruguayan club’s total transfer revenue, Evaristo Gonzalez, Peñarol’s secretary general, told Efe.
In addition to the money that Peñarol obtained from his sale to Almeria in 2019, the Aurinegros received an additional 25 percent of the Portuguese-record 25-million-euro transfer fee that Benfica paid that second-division Spanish club for his services.
Now, the Uruguayan club is further boosting its coffers with its rights to 3 percent of the total fee for Nuñez’s transfer from Benfica to Liverpool.
That player is the latest in long line of success stories for Peñarol, with several former Manyas – Brian Rodriguez, Facundo Torres, Facu Pellistri and Agustin Alvarez, all between the ages of 19 and 21 at the time – having moved over the past four years to Los Angeles FC, Orlando City, Manchester United and Sassuolo, respectively.
Gonzalez said the club frequently receives “very tempting offers” for increasingly younger players but tries to keep them around until they are 20 or 21.
“It’s not the same to sell a 17-year-old kid with six matches in the first division as it is to sell a 20-year-old who was the top goal-scorer in the Copa Sudamericana (as Alvarez was 2021) or that has a longer track record with the club,” he added.
Gonzalez also stressed the importance of going step-by-step, as Nuñez has, and not rushing the process.
“That process now has ended in the most important league, which is the English league, with (the reigning) Champions League finalist and probably one of the most important coaches in the world (Jurgen Klopp),” said the Peñarol secretary general, who added that he expects the German manager will “get the most out of the player’s potential.”
Along those lines, Peñarol laments that midfielder Federico Valverde left the club at a very young age for Real Madrid, who paid $5 million in 2016 for an 17-year-old player whose current market value is around $70 million, according to German-based soccer website Transfermarkt.
“I don’t have the slightest doubt that if we’d sold Valverde at age 20 or 21 instead of at 17, with time spent with Uruguay’s national team, we never would’ve sold him for that amount, but rather for much more,” Gonzalez said.
Valverde now not only is considered untouchable by Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti, but at age 23 he also is one of the pillars of the Uruguayan national team’s new generation.
To keep the talent flowing, Gonzalez is planning the construction of a Sports City facility with the capacity to house 40 young aspiring soccer stars and provide them with both schooling and athletic training.
“One among thousands reaches the top, but for all those who stay Peñarol’s goal is for them to be better people,” Gonzalez said, adding that values such as responsibility and commitment are ingrained in all of the club’s players. EFE