THE race for next season’s Premier League is hotting up – in more ways than one.
Manchester City and Liverpool have splashed out record sums to snap up two of the most exciting strikers in the game.
Female fans have been paying special attention to the stars’ ripped torsos – which neither are shy of showing off.
Grant Rollings takes a look at the men whose goals could bring the big trophies.
Erling Haaland: Manchester City
- AGE: 21
- FEE: £51million
- PAY: £375,000 a week
- DAD: Ex-pro footballer
- MUM: Heptathlon champ
- LIKES: Giving £12,000 watches to 33 team-mates
EVEN before Erling arrived at mega-rich Man City, he was a young man accustomed to the finest things in life.
The 6ft 5in, blond-haired colossus, nicknamed The Terminator, flies on private jets, has a personal fitness guru and chef, and reportedly gave a £25,000 tip after splashing out £400,000 at a restaurant during a holiday in Greece.
On leaving German side Borussia Dortmund to head to the Premier League this week, the generous star gave each of his 33 team-mates Rolex watches worth £12,000 each.
But as City’s now highest-paid player — on a reported £375,000 a week — he can afford it.
Having knocked in 62 goals in 67 games for Borussia Dortmund, the striker was wanted by Real Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea and both Manchester sides.
Erling’s ex-footballer dad Alf-Inge and his agent met Europe’s wealthiest chairmen to see who could offer the Norwegian hotshot the most enticing deal.
Erling, though, insists he joined the Premier League champions to work with manager Pep Guardiola and because he had been a fan of the club since childhood.
The striker was born in Leeds when his dad played for the club there, then watched his dad run out for Man City.
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He said: “I was born in England. I have been a City fan my whole life. I know a lot about the club. I feel at home here.”
But he was also once snapped 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. As well as having a footballer dad, his mum, Gry Marita Braut, was a Norwegian heptathlon champion.
Growing up in the small town of Bryne, he was also impressive at the long jump, handball and golf.
The lanky athlete, who has an older brother Astor and sister Gabrielle, has gone to great lengths to build up his physique, eating 4,000 calories a day.
Erling is single at the moment and is said to prefer to focus on football.
In fact, so obsessed is the Norwegian that he wakes up every morning to the sound of the Champions League anthem.
Darwin Nunez: Liverpool
- AGE: 22
- FEE: £85million
- PAY: £140,000 a week
- DAD: Bricklayer
- MUM: Former bottle seller
- LOVES: Girlfriend Lorena and son Darwin
ON the dusty city streets of Artigas, Nunez dreamed of making it as a footballer.
It was his best shot at giving his parents a better life.
His bricklayer dad Bibiano and mum Silvia, who had to sell old bottles to make ends meet, lived with their two sons in a cramped home in the flood zone of the Cuareim river.
When it burst its banks, the waters overwhelmed their house.
Family friend Monty Suarez, whose son played with Nunez in primary school, told The Sun: “They had financial shortcomings.
“They lived in a place where people have to leave their houses to escape from the water.”
Rural Artigas is the furthest city from capital Montevideo, so when, aged 14, Nunez’s talents were spotted by scouts from top league side Penarol, he had to move 370 miles from home.
His older brother Junior was already at Penarol and their mother did not want her youngest son to also live so far away.
Scout Jose Batlle Perdomo told The Sun: “It wasn’t easy to get him out of Artigas. His mother didn’t want us to take Darwin away from her as well.”
At first the schoolboy, who Liverpool snapped up for what could become a club record £85million, was so homesick he had to return to his parents. But a few months later he rejoined Penarol’s youth team.
Club director Rodolfo Catino says: “He was always a very shy person, but an excellent sportsman — very committed.”
After breaking into the first team, Nunez suffered a serious knee injury and slipped back into the youth squad.
Perdomo says: “I tried to help him, more than anything with his state of mind.
“He was always a very committed player and we managed to get him to recover.
“His path to where he is now has not been an easy one.”
After Nunez left his homeland in 2019 to join Spanish side Almeria, he started to earn enough money to look after his parents.
He bought them a car and farmhouse close to Artigas, plus a home for his brother Junior.
Friend Monty revealed: “Darwin is always ready to take on humanitarian tasks.
“Every time the river Cuareim rises, he sends money to help with food and clothes for residents of his old district.”
In 2020 Nunez joined Portuguese side Benfica and began dating Lorena Manas. They had their first child, a son also called Darwin, in January.
Now he has 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.