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Cunha close to Wolves transfer

According to multiple reports.

Atletico Madrid v Bayer 04 Leverkusen: Group B - UEFA Champions League Photo by Rubén de la Fuente Pérez/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Misfiring Atlético Madrid forward Matheus Cunha seems set for a winter switch to Premier League side Wolverhampton, per multiple reports this weekend.

Cadena SER and Marca claimed a deal is close to send Cunha to Julen Lopetegui’s Wolves in the January window, while Relevo have reported Wolves are leading a Premier League pack that includes Everton, Aston Villa, and Leeds United. Cunha’s contract to 2026 contains a €100 million release clause, but it is expected that Atlético willI agree to sell the player for a fee well below the clause.

It has been clear for several weeks that Cunha’s immediate playing future will not be in Spain. After a promising first season in LaLiga that saw him become a fan favorite, Cunha has regressed significantly since being handed the number-nine shirt at the start of the 2022/23 season. The Brazilian has started only two games this season and has yet to score in 17 appearances — a drought that arguably cost him a place in Brazil’s FIFA World Cup squad.

RCD Mallorca v Atletico de Madrid - LaLiga Santander Photo by Cristian Trujillo/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Atlético purchased Cunha from Hertha Berlin less than 18 months ago, and he recorded 10 goal contributions in league play despite being Diego Simeone’s fifth-choice forward for much of the 2021/22 season. The 2022/23 campaign has been a different story — Cunha has accrued just 1.4 expected goals and two assists in 11 league games (377 minutes). His average shot distance is longer (16.1 yards from goal) than a season ago (15.4 yards), though the 23-year-old is creating shots at the same rate as last season while seeing a slight dip in goal-creating actions per 90.

But a striker’s primary job is to score goals, and Cunha hasn’t done that, depriving Atlético of a quality backup for the hard-working but inconsistent Álvaro Morata. Assuming his departure is finalized soon, it will be a sad conclusion to Cunha’s brief but memorable time (just 40 league games) in Madrid. Cunha’s exit could also be the start of Atleti’s squad refresh, with players like João Félix and Rodrigo de Paul among those expected to generate serious interest after the World Cup.