The ad slogan for the famous energy drink says that ‘RB gives you wings’, however in the case of Brazilian Matheus Cunha that has only been the case after leaving the fizzy drink club and moving to the German capital. The 21-year-old has been a revelation since joining Hertha Berlin in January and is proving that Leipzig may have been premature in parting ways with him.
In the Rückrunde the attacker has scored five goals in ten appearances adding two assists and becoming an integral part of Bruno Labbadia’s regeneration of the ‘Old Lady’. So, what went wrong for him at the Red Bull Arena?
Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann and sporting director Markus Krösche deemed him surplus to requirements back in the Winter transfer window and sold him to Hertha for €18 million. Speaking at a press conference at the time the RB boss cited a lack of goals as the decisive factor. “I think it’s clear to everyone that he is a good footballer, that he’s a big talent and has good ability. He has simply not scored.”
In both the Bundesliga and the Champions League the Brazilian’s goal return was just up to scratch. In 52 appearances for Leipzig Cunha scored nine goals and provided three assists with just two goals in 35 Bundesliga matches- even if one of them was his wonder strike against Bayer Leverkusen in April 2019. It seemed Julian Nagelsmann wanted more from his striker in terms of energy and output.
With Timo Werner, Yussuf Poulsen and loanee Patrik Schick ahead of him in the Leipzig forward hierarchy, Cunha struggled for games and was more often than not only on the bench. Hertha however saw they could offer the Brazilian signed from Swiss club Sion in 2018 a way out and an opportunity to prove himself.
“Matheus is a young player with enormous potential, who has already shown his impressive skills,” manager Michael Preetz told the club’s official website after signing him. “He can play up front or deeper, so he gives us options.”
Those options have certainly been on display in the Rückrunde with some very impressive displays. So much so that reports claimed that Italian giants Inter had made an enquiry with a view to Cunha being a potential replacement for Lautaro Martinez with Calciomercato.com putting a €40 million valuation on the Brazilian.
“He has enormous potential, but he still has a lot of things to learn” Hertha coach Labbadia said after their 2-2 draw with Leipzig. “He has the ability to always come up with something and despite not playing his best game, that is why we left him on the field.”
He has recently become a father for the first time after his son was born shortly after he scored against Union Berlin in the 4-0 Derby win (hence his goal celebration). Life at the Olympiastadion looks to suit the player and another goal this weekend as Hertha beat Bayer Leverkusen is testament to that.
Cunha will already have one eye on continuing his development at ambitious Hertha next season and also forcing his way into the Brazilian national side. He finished as top scorer for the U-23 side in the South American Olympic qualifying tournament in Colombia earlier this year with five goals giving Brazil coach Tite another option.
It looks like Matheus Santos Carneiro da Cunha doesn’t need a caffeine, taurine and glucose laden drink to give him wings- just the right stage at Hertha Berlin.