Matheus Cunha’s strengths, weaknesses and what he will offer - as Wolves close in on signing

With Wolves set to announce Matheus Cunha as their first January signing, we take a look at the Atletico forward’s strengths and weaknesses.
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Wolverhampton Wanderers have all but confirmed the first signing of the Julen Lopetegui era, as Matheus Cunha is reportedly set to sign his paperwork and undergo a medical in the coming days. The Atletico Madrid forward will join Wolves on a loan deal initially, but this is expected to become permanent in the summer for a fee in the region of €50 million (£43.8 million).

The news brings about some positivity during what has been a disastrous season so far for the Wanderers, who are currently at rock bottom of the Premier League standings ahead of the resumption of play on Boxing Day. Wolves have scored the least goals in the entire division with nine and to make matters worse this figure is three below the second-worst sides, Everton and Nottingham Forest.

Cunha’s arrival could help inspire Lopetegui’s side to soar out of the relegation zone, though it would probably take yet more additions to ensure survival. It is certainly a step in the right direction, however, as the Brazilian, who was also wanted by the likes of Arsenal, Leeds United and Aston Villa, has plenty of experience at the highest level.

He has fallen down the pecking order at the Wanda Metropolitano somewhat having played just 370 minutes of La Liga football this term, and he is yet to score a goal this campaign, but Cunha was in far better form a few months prior. Last season, the 23-year-old netted six and assisted six in 29 league appearances – a much better return than of late.

What are Matheus Cunha’s strengths?

Cunha, unlike current Wolves star Adama Traore, is not one to often beat defenders with quick acceleration, but when he gets up to speed he is faster than he first looks. He is not particularly quick off the spot, but he can drive the ball up the field with pace - and his impressive flair helps in 1v1 situations.

He often cuts inside but is not afraid to head to the byline to catch defenders out. Cunha loves taking players on, and that allows him to play wide as well as centrally. He is a clinical finisher and a powerful striker of the ball. At 6ft tall, he has enough of a presence to hold off defenders and win headers, too.

Wolves’ imminent new signing Matheus Cunha was part of the Brazil squad that won Gold at the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.Wolves’ imminent new signing Matheus Cunha was part of the Brazil squad that won Gold at the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
Wolves’ imminent new signing Matheus Cunha was part of the Brazil squad that won Gold at the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

Cunha, who can play either as a centre forward, left winger or right winger, is a versatile attacker who will add much-needed depth to Wolves’ attacking line. With the likes of Diego Costa, Raul Jimenez, Daniel Podence and Goncalo Guedes unable to find any form this season, it may not take long for Cunha to get a starting place.

What about Matheus Cunha’s weaknesses?

As is the nature of a player a club is willing to get rid of at the age of just 23, Cunha does unfortunately have a few weaknesses in his game. At times, the Brazilian’s decision-making can lead to him giving up possession more often than his teammates, but that is largely down to his desire to take people on - and that is not necessarily too bad of a thing.

Much of the reason Diego Simeone has probably utilised Cunha more off the bench rather than as a starter is due to his lack of consistency. Of the 43 La Liga appearances he has made, just 10 have been starts. It does make his record of seven goals and eight assists look a lot better with that added context, though. It is also worth noting that accurate and incisive passing is not a particular strength of Cunha’s.