THE race for next season’s Premier League is heating up – in more ways than one.
Manchester City and Liverpool have spent record sums nabbing two of the game’s most exciting forwards.
But it’s not just the transfer fees for 21-year-old Norwegian superstar Erling Haaland and Uruguayan striker Darwin Nunez, 22, that are causing a stir.
Female fans have paid particular attention to the stars’ ripped torsos – both of whom aren’t shy about showing off.
Grant Rollings takes a look at the men whose goals could bring the big trophies.
Erling Haaland: Manchester City
- AGE: 21
- FEE: £51 million
- PAY: £375,000 per week
- FATHER: Ex-soccer player
- MUM: Heptathlon Champion
- MAG: Giving £12,000 worth of watches to 33 teammates
EVEN before Erling joined the mega-rich Man City, he was a young man used to the finer things in life.
The 6ft 5in blonde haired colossus, nicknamed The Terminator, flies in private jets, has a personal fitness guru and chef and reportedly tipped £25,000 after spending £400,000 at a restaurant while on holiday in Greece.
As he left German club Borussia Dortmund for the Premier League this week, the generous star gifted each of his 33 team-mates £12,000 worth of Rolex watches.
But as City’s now highest-paid player – at reportedly £375,000 a week – he can afford it.
After scoring 62 goals in 67 games for Borussia Dortmund, the striker has been wanted by Real Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea and both sides from Manchester.
Erling’s ex-footballer father Alf-Inge and his agent met with Europe’s richest CEOs to see who could offer the Norwegian superstar the most enticing deal.
However, Erling insists he joined the Premier League champions to work alongside manager Pep Guardiola and because he has been a fan of the club since childhood.
The forward was born in Leeds when his father played for the club there and then watched his father play for Man City.
He said: “I was born in England. I’ve been a City fan all my life. I know a lot about the club. I feel at home here.”
But he was also once photographed in an Arsenal kit and The Sun can reveal he told a Norwegian newspaper five years ago: “My dream is to win the Premier League with Leeds.”
Sport is in Erling’s genes. His mother, Gry Marita Braut, not only had a footballer father, but was also a Norwegian heptathlon champion.
Growing up in the small town of Bryne, he also impressed at long jump, handball and golf.
The lanky athlete, who has an older brother, Astor, and a sister, Gabrielle, has gone to great lengths to build his body and eat 4,000 calories a day.
Erling is currently single and reportedly prefers to focus on football.
In fact, the Norwegian is so obsessed that he wakes up every morning to the sound of the Champions League anthem.
Darwin Nunez: Liverpool
- AGE: 22
- FEE: £85 million
- PAY: £140,000 per week
- FATHER: Bricklayer
- MUM: Former bottle seller
- LOVES: Girlfriend Lorena and son Darwin
ON the dusty streets of Artigas, Nunez dreamed of making it as a footballer.
It was his best chance to give his parents a better life.
His father, a mason, Bibiano, and his mother, Silvia, who had to sell old bottles to make ends meet, lived with their two sons in a cramped house in the floodplain of the Cuareim River.
When it burst its banks, the water flooded their house.
Family friend Monty Suarez, whose son played with Nunez in elementary school, told The Sun: “They had financial shortcomings.
“They lived in a place where people have to leave their homes to escape the water.”
Rural Artigas is the town farthest from the capital, Montevideo. When Nunez was discovered by scouts from Penarol Premier League at the age of 14, he had to move 600 kilometers from home.
His older brother Junior was already in Penarol and the mother didn’t want her youngest son to live so far away.
Scout Jose Batlle Perdomo told The Sun: “It wasn’t easy getting him out of Artigas. His mother didn’t want us to take Darwin away from her too.”
At first the schoolboy, who Liverpool snapped for a club-record £85million, was so homesick he had to go back to his parents. But a few months later he returned to the Penarol youth team.
Club director Rodolfo Catino says: “He was always a very shy person, but an excellent athlete – very committed.”
After making the first team, Nunez suffered a serious knee injury and slipped back into the youth squad.
Perdomo says: “I tried to help him, mainly because of his state of mind.
“He was always a very dedicated player and we managed to get him to recover.
“His journey to where he is now has not been easy.”
After leaving his home country to join Spanish club Almeria in 2019, Nunez started earning enough money to take care of his parents.
He bought them a car and a farmhouse near Artigas and a house for his brother Junior.
Friend Monty revealed: “Darwin is always ready to take on humanitarian work.
“Every time the Cuareim River rises, it sends money to help the residents of its old neighborhood with food and clothing.”
In 2020, Nunez joined Portuguese side Benfica and started dating Lorena Manas. In January they had their first child, a son named Darwin.
Now he’s made his biggest footballing move – but it won’t go to his head.
As he once said, “I don’t forget where I come from – a humble, hard-working family.
https://www.the-sun.com/sport/5587408/haaland-nunez-rivals-premier-league/ Premier League rivals Man City ace Erling Haaland and Liverpool’s Darwin Nunez have some surprising similarities