24 year old ace who was formerly expected to replace Jimenez, has been a “overpayment” for the Wolves – Journalist

Wolverhampton Wanderers have survived a challenging summer, as the break in play became far from a time of reflection and more of a time for action for the Old Gold.

From a change in managers to financial restrictions, arrivals and departures, Molineux experienced a wave of tests on the back of the 2022/23 campaign that at one point saw them struggle as relegation candidates.

The Midlands side were bottom of the Premier League table on Christmas day, resurrected by Julen Lopetegui who combated the odds and ensured Wolves were granted survival, however the Spaniard’s reign came to a blunt end days prior to the 2023/24 opening fixture.

The former Real Madrid manager was unable to sign much-needed reinforcements throughout the transfer window due to Financial Fair Play (FFP) restrictions, with his frustrations amounting to him ending his tenure five days before the season opener.

Gary O’Neil saved the day and emerged as the man to take Wolves forward, however the problem remains for the Englishman, who has a depleted squad due to an influx of players leaving with minimal replacements.

It was hoped that the Old Gold would salvage the funds to hire a new striker this summer, after ending the 2022/23 campaign as the Premier League’s lowest-scorers, despite making a statement attacking signing during Lopetegui’s reign.

Matheus Cunha arrived in January from Atletico Madrid on a loan-deal with an obligation to buy, making him Lopetegui’s first signing at Wolves, a player that had the trust placed in him to get the side firing again.

Just months after breaking the club transfer record to welcome Matheus Nunes to Molineux for £42.2m, Wolves smashed the record fee again by shaking hands with Cunha.

The Brazilian was signed with an obligation to buy for €50m (£44m), a brilliant deal for Atletico who had only paid £22m for the forward in the summer of 2021 from Hertha Berlin.

At the point that Wolves officially sealed the deal for the 24-year-old in January, the attacker had an expected transfer value (xTV) of just €19.7m (£16.8m), via Football Transfers, suggesting that the price to be paid for Cunha was far beyond the figure he was appropriately valued at in the market.

What was the reaction when Cunha was signed?

Hindsight is a powerful thing, however there was great excitement when the forward arrived from Atletico Madrid in January, as Wolves were desperate for a change in personnel leading the line.

Just before he was officially unveiled, journalist Pete O’Rourke told GIVEMESPORT of how the Brazilian could be the ideal successor to Raul Jimenez, who had fallen out of form after his heroics early into his Molineux career.

The Mexican was the driving force to Wolves’ success under Nuno Espirito Santo on their return to the Premier League, cementing himself as the squad’s lead talisman and an ever-reliable source of goals.

In the 2018/19 and 2019/20 campaigns, the two following the Old Gold’s promotion, Jimenez scored 30 goals across the two terms, a feat that was cruelly ended by his life-threatening skull fracture in 2020.

Subsequently, the explosive forward spent a significant amount of time away from the action, returning and scoring just 10 goals onwards from his dynamic two years at the beginning of his time in the Midlands.

Last season, the 32-year-old failed to score at all for Wolves in the Premier League, putting weight on Cunha’s shoulders when he arrived as the man to replace him.

O’Rourke told GIVEMESPORT that he saw the former Atletico forward as a “long-term replacement” for Nuno’s star striker, based on his performances prior to his touchdown in England.

How many goals did Matheus Cunha score before joining Wolves?

The Brazil international was snatched up by Atleti due to his impressive performances in Germany, where he had a hand in 12 Bundesliga goals in 27 appearances the season prior to his exit from Hertha.

In total, the striker, deployed on the wing in Germany, scored 14 goals and registered 10 assists in his 74 Bundesliga appearances representing both Hertha and RB Leipzig, before making the move to Spain.

In Madrid, Cunha opened his La Liga career with six goals and six assists in 29 appearances, however his form dropped the season after, where he failed to score in 11 appearances which prompted his move to Wolves.

What is his market value now?

Fast-forward to now and the forward that was once tipped to replace Jimenez has found the net just three times in 24 appearances, suggesting that there is a long way to go until he can be considered as a viable replacement to the Mexican.

Purchased for £44m in July, Cunha’s current xTV sits at €23.4m (£20m), almost £25m under the price that he was bought for with little to show for his price tag at this point in his Wolves career.

The Athletic journalist Steve Madeley gave his thoughts on the capture of Cunha, branding the deal as a “significant overpayment”.

It’s a fair judgement considering that at the point of the transaction earlier this summer, the Brazilian’s xTV was just €20.7m (£17.7m), displaying what can only be described as a costly piece of business for Wolves and a jackpot for Atletico.

Despite the glaring difference between market value and transfer fee, it’s also fair to consider that the forward could still blossom at Molineux, with the four years remaining on his contract buying time for him to properly impose himself.

Madeley also explained that Cunha has the tools to “come good” in England, with progression shown early into this season with his average Sofascore match rating sitting at 7.03 after four games, growth on his average rating of 6.83 last term.

All in all, there is a long way to go before the 24-year-old can be considered as a replacement for Jimenez, who on his best days was one of the most prolific strikers in England and a reliable output in the final third at Molineux.

It will be interesting to see what the season ahead entails for Cunha, who seems to be an important cog in the squad that O’Neil is building, starting all the league fixtures so far in the number nine role.

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