Atlético Madrid’s fourth summer signing is a long-awaited forward.
The club announced Matheus Cunha’s arrival from Hertha Berlin on Wednesday morning, bringing a surprising end to Diego Simeone’s search for another striker (at least for this summer).
Cunha passed his medical after arriving in Madrid on Tuesday and signed a five-year contract. It’s believed Atlético have agreed to pay roughly €30 million to acquire the Brazilian, and Hertha will receive 10 percent of any future transfer fee Atleti get for Cunha.
The player will take the #19 shirt, which Diego Costa and Moussa Dembélé most recently wore.
Cunha’s profile is an interesting one, to say the least — and not what many fans had in mind when it emerged the Spanish champions were going to sign another forward this summer.
Cunha has scored gobs of goals while leading the line for Brazil’s under-23 team, including three at the Summer Olympics as Brazil won the gold medal over Spain. But at club level, he has been used more often as an attacking midfielder/winger and only sometimes as a center forward, which has reduced his potential goalscoring efficiency.
Nevertheless, Cunha is a high-volume shooter and dribbler who creates a lot of opportunities for others — and despite recent criticism over his defensive abilities, his pressing and other defensive metrics (such as blocks and interceptions) are sound. Cunha will endear himself to Cholo Simeone if he shows this kind of work rate from day one.
It will be fascinating — and possibly decisive — to see where and when Simeone chooses to deploy his new forward, who isn’t a number nine but could be. This opens up some intriguing tactical flexibility, such as seeing Atlético play by design without a recognized nine when Luis Suárez isn’t on the pitch.