Player report: Matheus Cunha (Hertha Berlin)
Name: Matheus Cunha
How does Cunha compare to current Premier League attacking midfielders?
A comparison of Cunha's goals/assists and tackles per game, to five current Premier League attacking midfielders/wingers who have previously played in another of Europe's top 5 leagues. Especially, Ilkay Gundogan and Kevin De Bruyne who have played in Cunha's Bundesliga for Dortmund and Wolfsburg respectively.
What does the graphic show?
Cunha's goal contribution (goals and assists) per a league game is the same as Mane's and marginally lower than Jota's. Although his far behind Fernandes and De Bruyne, which indicates there is still room for improvement in output.
Cunha's defensive work rate is impressive, far better than the other attacking midfielders - except from Fernandes and De Bruyne. With the two previously named players being two of the best in the league, it shows that defensive contribution is also important for attacking midfielders.
Cunha is an important part of the Hertha Berlin team, who have struggled this season. The team has an average possession of 51.1% (8th most), but are 15th in the league. Of their 26 goals so far this season, Cunha has scored or assisted 34% of them. Explained by their heavy concentration of attacking player down the left wing.
Why is this relevant?
It highlights the individual success of Cunha this season. The 5 Premier League players I compared him to (in the above graphic), are playing for teams fighting at the opposite end of the table to Cunha. Further differences are seen in the Hertha's possession compared to the Manchester clubs and Liverpool, which is almost lower by 10% on average this season to the English trio. This reliance on Cunha indicates his ability to play under pressure and thus an ability to deal with the greater public pressure which comes with playing for top Premier League teams.
Areas Cunha can improve?
Holding on to the ball
Why should these weaknesses not be worrying?
Discipline comes with age, and his use of possession would arguably improve in a team where they have a greater amount of possession compared to his current Berlin team. Seen by Kante's improvement in possession of the ball since joining Chelsea from Leicester.
Who would he fit in the Premier League?
Spurs on average fail 7 out of their attempted 16.5 dribbles per game.A weakness of Spurs, an area of strength for Cunha who performs the most successful number of dribbles per a game in the Bundesliga. Cunha could be a suitable replacement for Bale, if he does not sign permanently. Whilst also providing a back up option to Kane, who has suffered consistently for ankle injuries which leaves Tottenham light in their attacking department.
Newcastle who rank 15th in goals scored in there Premier League, are highly reliant on Wilson to score. Cunha could provide an alternative source of goals to Wilson, who has an unfortunate injury record. Although they may be reluctant as a result of the failure of striker Joelinton, who joined from the Bundesliga for £45 million, to have an impact since he joined.
Leeds have missed 32 ‘big chances’ (4th most in the league), which suggest that they are missing a clinical finisher alongside Bamford to score the large amount of chances as a result of Bielsa's style. Summer signing Rodrigo has failed to have a significant impact, and Cunha's defensive work rate would suit Bielsa's high-energy, pressing style of play. Bielsa is also keen on versatile players seen by his use of Stuart Dallas in various positions, Cunha is a versatile player who can play in the centre of midfield, as a number 9 or a winger.
One season wonder?
2019/20: 6 goals and assists from 21 apps (for RB Leipzig & Hertha Berlin)
2020/21: on track for 15 goals and assists this season - based on his current average of goals and assists per a game
How does this compare to Firmino and Joelinton's Bundesliga careers before moving to England?
Firmino for Hoffenheim:
2014/15: 17 goals and assists
2013/14: 27 goals and assists
For Liverpool since joining: 103 goals and assists from 199 appearances
Joelinton for Hoffenheim:
2018/19: 12 goals and assists
For Newcastle since joining: 7 goals and assists from 56 appearances
What does this show?
Transfers from Bundesliga to Premier League can yield mixed results, Firmino and his 0.51 goals and assists per game has arguably been a very successful move for Liverpool. Whereas, Joelinton and his average of 1 goal or assist every 10 games has been a far less successful for Newcastle. It also indicates that the higher the transfer fee doesn't always mean a successful move, Firmino cost £29 million which is far less than Joelinton's transfer fee.
Cunha wouldn't be cheap, even with the financial implications of Covid-19. His contract is believed to run until 2024 and he was signed for £16 million in the 2020 January transfer window. An expected Brazil senior team call up in the near future, after 15 goals in 16 u23s games, won’t make him any cheaper. Also, a move from Bundesliga doesn't ensure a successful transfer.
Data from WhoScored and image from unknown source on Google.