After joining Atletico Madrid for nearly $32 million from Hertha BSC, Brazilian striker Matheus Cunha will join 20th-place Wolves to help them fight their way out of the relegation zone.
Cunha, who joined Atleti in August 2021, was set to provide more firepower to a side that just came off of a LaLiga-winning season. But, Cunha found himself on the bench behind players like Joao Felix, Angel Correa, and Antoine Griezmann. In the limited minutes he got, he showed signs of brilliance, but it was not enough to get him promoted to the first team.
Rough year for Atleti, and Matheus Cunha
It’s been more of the same for the eight-cap striker this season. Amid a rough year for Atleti (they are fifth in LaLiga, and the last time they finished fifth was in 2012), Cunha has started just twice and appeared in 11 LaLiga games. Despite his two assists from the bench, he’s been buried beneath the wealth of options they currently have.
Cunha’s reported loan with an obligatory future fee of around $53 million is set to be their most experienced transfer to date. It comes just six months after Wolves shelled out $54 million combined on attackers Goncalo Guedes and Sasa Kalajdzic.
Yet, Kalajdzic tore his ACL just 45 minutes into his season debut, ending his season. Combined with the fact that Guedes has been somewhat mediocre, it has resulted in the worst offense in the league. It’s the main reason why Wolves have targeted Cunha, along with other playmakers. Wolves are reportedly sniffing around free agent Isco and Angers midfielder Azzedine Ounahi.
My heart will always have a piece of Atleti! You always had my everything simply because I felt you gave me your everything. Thanks a lot, Cunha.Matheus Cunha announces his heartfelt departure from Atletico Madrid
Analyzing the transfer
This could either be one of the most shrewd transfers of all time to save a struggling Wolves, or it could be another dent in Sporting Director Matt Hobbs’ record. Buying a struggling wunderkind starving for first-team football will be arguably Wolves’ biggest risk of all time.
Julen Lopetegui knows Cunha well; in fact, Cunha got an assist in Atleti’s 2-0 win over Sevilla. He should know Cunha’s untapped potential; that he is a raw talent, and that he has the potential to become a good Premier League player. But he should also Cunha can also become one of the Premier League’s biggest flops, especially with all the attackers at Wolves vying for more game time.
If Cunha can fulfill his potential and lead Wolves out of the red, he will perfectly fit into Lopetegui’s preferred 4-3-3. He’s most comfortable as a center-forward, but has game experience as a winger on both sides. Cunha has also played as an attacking midfielder with some success.
Cunha needs to prove Diego Simeone wrong and reward the steep transfer fee with a quick start. It’s possible, as evidenced by his earlier years at Hertha BSC, but one might wonder whether he is sharp enough to beat out the competition for Wolves’ scarce attacking spots, much less succeed in the ultra-competitive Premier League.
The best way to start is a matchup with 17th-place Everton. Despite its low standing in the table, Everton has conceded the fourth-least goals at just 17, only trailing City, Arsenal, and Newcastle. Cunha will then face 7th-place Chelsea before entering the New Year with a rivalry match against 12th-place Sevilla.
Photo credit: IMAGO / NurPhoto
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