Liverpool striker Darwin Nunez revealed on Wednesday that he sought approval from Luis Suarez to wear the No. 9 shirt for Uruguay in the team’s opening 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
The comments came after Suarez and long-time national strike partner Edinson Cavani were left out of the Celeste squad for the matches against Chile and Ecuador over the next six days.
“I spoke with Suarez and told him that I wanted to play with the 9,” Nunez told reporters on Wednesday.
“I said that I was going to give my all as he did playing with the national team. I admire Suarez very much and the truth is that he has been very important to the national team, apart from helping me a lot.”
Suarez and Cavani are first and second respectively on Uruguay’s list of all-time leading scorers with 68 and 58 goals each.
Both players are 36 years old and have been below their best for their respective clubs this season. Cavani has scored once in five matches for Argentina’s Boca Juniors, while Suarez has netted 15 times in 37 games for Brazilian side Gremio.
In their absence, manager Marcelo Bielsa is likely to ask 24-year-old Nunez to lead Uruguay’s attack, which also includes Manchester United’s Facundo Pellistri and Cadiz striker Maxi Gomez.
“He [Suarez] told me to be calm and take my opportunity,” Nunez said. “I asked him with all due respect [about the No. 9 shirt] and he said yes. If he comes back, obviously the number will be his.”
Uruguay will face Chile in Montevideo on Friday and Ecuador in Quito next Tuesday.