Manchester United’s transfer window has been far from predictable, with talkSPORT’s exclusive on Matheus Cunha coming out of nowhere.
So far Erik ten Hag has brought just three new signings to a side in desperate need of a rebuild, but a £42m move for the Brazilian star from Atletico Madrid could do the most big difference so far.
The 23-year-old international had long been on the radar of Europe’s top flight, and after an eye-catching spell at Hertha Berlin, Atleti took the plunge and signed him in a £21million deal in 2021.
He even played under Ralf Rangnick at RB Leipzig before that. After being signed in 2018 from Swiss side Sion, he said: “His pace and attacking threat for his age is impressive and he will fit well with our ethos.”
After playing as a striker at Hertha, Cunha exploited his versatility to often fall into a more withdrawn role under Diego Simeone, still managing seven goals in 37 appearances as they failed to prevent the Real to win their league crown.
Liverpool reportedly wanted to sign him in January but were turned down, leading to them signing Luis Diaz.
Now the Reds’ loss could well be United’s gain and here talkSPORT explains why it is so highly rated.
Gold Medal Heroism
Likely to be part of Tite’s Brazil squad for the 2022 World Cup, Cunha has more than earned his place by already securing top honors for the country.
Featured in the COVID-delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympics in 2021, Cunha managed three goals, including the first in the final against Spain to secure gold for his country.
That effort, including a moment when he embarrassed two Spain defenders, earned him a move to Atleti and the chance to play a crucial role in Qatar this winter.
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Idol Ronaldinho, even broke his record
Like many Brazilians and many players who grew up in the 2000s, Cunha’s hero is the Ronaldinho icon.
“It’s hard to talk about him because he’s my friend.
“He is definitely an amazing person who treated me very well. I wish him all the best and he deserves it.
Ronaldinho would no doubt have been impressed to see his friend break his record for most goals for Brazil Under-23s on his way to Olympic glory, scoring 21 in total to cement his place as the country’s fan favorite .
Compared to Roberto Firmino
Ronaldinho may be his idol, but it’s Cunha’s ability to pick up the ball deep and play together that has compared him to Liverpool’s ‘false nine’.
Bundesliga.com once said: “That’s part of the reason why he’s such a difficult striker to defend because more often than not he’s not where you expect him to be.”
Unlike Firmino, however, Cunha has often been famous for a wicked shot, unleashing commands from outside the area to bring his side to life.
Winner of Goal of the Year with Samba Skill
Cunha once said that his favorite sport was not football but actually futsal, and that was clear in his Leipzig days.
After being picked up by Ralf Rangnick’s scouting network from Sion in 2018, the versatile striker quickly got to work in East Germany and won the Bundesliga Goal of the Year in his debut campaign .
Facing Bayer Leverkusen in 2019, Cunha salvaged a pass from former Chelsea man Timo Werner before battling one defender and spinning another with outrageous skill.
If that wasn’t enough, Cunha managed to calm down in an instant to finish in style on the goalkeeper and claim the prize.
“In Brazil everyone jokes with me that it was one more goal from futsal and indoor football,” he later said.
“The goal was definitely inspired by futsal because I’ve played futsal a lot and it’s the sport I love the most. I even like it more than outdoor football.
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