Manchester United‘s start to the season has reinforced the need for new signings, and Matheus Cunha is the latest player to find himself linked with the club.
Two defeats from two have seen Erik ten Hag’s side fall to the bottom of the Premier League table, with the 4-0 defeat at Brentford prompting crisis talks. The former Ajax manager has added three players to his squad since taking over at Old Trafford, but none since the July move for Lisandro Martinez.
United have not signed a forward this summer, but Cristiano Ronaldo‘s uncertain future and Anthony Martial‘s injury have illuminated the lack of depth in the area. One solution could be a move for Cunha, who could be allowed to leave Atletico Madrid after just one season.
According to reports, United are “on the verge” of signing Cunha from Atletico. The reported fee would be €50m for a player who cost the Spanish side around €30m just one year ago.
Who is Matheus Cunha
Born in the north-east of Brazil, Matheus Cunha is a 23-year-old forward with seven senior caps for his country. He has spent his entire professional club career in Europe, joining Swiss side Sion as a teenager and spending time in Germany before moving to his current club.
He scored 10 goals in his first season in the Swiss top flight, earning a move to RB Leipzig. It was there that he scored the Bundesliga goal of the month in April 2019, thanks to a roulette turn followed by a deft chip in a victory over Bayer Leverkusen.
Notably for United fans, it was Ralf Rangnick who brought a young Cunha to Germany. The Austria coach, who spent part of last season in the dugout at Old Trafford, was manager of Die Roten Bullen during the 2018-19 season.
Career so far
Despite that fantastic goal for Leipzig against Leverkusen, he scored just twice for the German side in 18 months with the club. He delivered more in Europe, with Celtic fans possibly remembering his contribution in a Europa League win for Rangnick’s team at Red Bull Arena.
Cunha moved to Hertha Berlin midway through the 2019-20 campaign, helping them secure a mid-table finish. Things were tougher the following season, with Hertha only narrowly staying up, but his seven goals – after five the previous season – made him their joint-top scorer.
The 23-year old is yet to score a senior goal for Brazil, but his record at under-23 level is enviable. His 21 goals include four at the 2019 Toulon Tournament and three at the Tokyo Olympics, including the opener in the gold medal match as Brazil retained their title.
What’s been said about him
“Matheus Cunha is a really intriguing player for us,” Rangnick said upon bringing the player to Germany. “His pace and attacking threat for his age is impressive and he will fit our philosophy well.”
However, Bruno Labbadia – one of his coaches at Hertha – hinted at attitude issues. “He’s still a young person at 21, but something has to change immediately,” the German said after taking Cunha off follow an “abysmal” first half against Freiburg.
“It’s unacceptable. He let himself and his team down with his performance. It’s very rare that I do something like this, but I’ll say it honestly: I’m totally offended.”
Cunha himself, meanwhile, has suggested his game has improved of late. He scored six goals in La Liga last term, but believes other aspects of his game have benefited from his time in Spain.
“I’ve become an even-more complete player,” he told Globo Esporte (via Into the Calderon ) earlier this month. “The intensity level in-game and in training is very high. We always work and train to the limit. It’s made me evolve.”
According to The Mail, Cunha would be open to a move. This is despite him having only joined Atleti last season, with injuries impacting his first season at the Wanda Metropolitano.
The links come as United frontman Ronaldo continues to be linked with a move to the Spanish club himself. However, the same reports suggests a swap deal is not expected to be on the cards.
Reports from around the time of Cunha’s Atletico Madrid move suggested Hertha have a 10% sell-on clause, potentially impacting the eventual fee. United’s need for firepower is clear, though, with Ten Hag’s side scoring just once across their opening two games.