Matheus Cunha is bringing his Brazilian skill to the capital for Hertha Berlin. - © DFL
Matheus Cunha is bringing his Brazilian skill to the capital for Hertha Berlin. - © DFL

Who is Matheus Cunha, Hertha Berlin's NextGen star?

The scorer of the Bundesliga's Goal of the Year in 2019 has been settling into his new home in the German capital in recent months. profiles Hertha Berlin's Samba King, whose love for Futsal inspires his footballing talent...

Matheus Cunha

Age: 21
Position: Striker
Club: Hertha Berlin
Country: Brazil (16 U23 caps/14 goals)

Key stats

After enjoying an eye-catching debut season of senior football at Sion in Switzerland in 2017/18 - the former Coritiba youth player hit 10 goals and eight assists in 29 league matches, including a hat-trick on the final day against FC Thun - the Futsal-inspired Brazilian joined RB Leipzig.

The versatile forward - who can play across the front line - will be well remembered for winning the 2019 Bundesliga Goal of the Year with his stunning effort for Leipzig against Bayer Leverkusen that April, and Cunha managed a total of nine goals and three assists in his two years at the club before heading to the capital in search of regular first-team football.

Watch: Cunha's 2019 Goal of the Year!

Before he began life at Hertha, Cunha was helping his country qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games. He ended the competition as top goalscorer courtesy of five strikes in as many games. Having scored in two Group B wins that helped secure Brazil's passage to the final stage, Cunha struck a late equaliser in the 1-1 draw with Uruguay and hit a brace in his country's 3-0 victory in their final, must-win, showdown against table toppers Argentina. And in just 11 Bundesliga appearances so far for Hertha, he's scored five times.

Plays a bit like: Roberto Firmino

Yes, they are both Brazilian, yes they are both forwards. But those are far from the only reasons why Cunha and former Hoffenheim attacker Roberto Firmino are alike. Much like the former Bundesliga star, Cunha honed his skills on the streets of Brazil, giving him a one-up on defenders. He can beat them with his speed, skill or intelligence to drift from his marker, having practiced in every position across the front line.

And much like Firmino, Cunha - even when leading the line - can be found dropping into midfield to pick up possession and link up play with teammates. It's part of the reason why he's such a hard attacker to defend against because more often than not, he's not where you expect him to be.

Matheus Cunha (l.) has scored eight goals in just 10 games for the Brazil U23 team. - JUAN BARRETO/AFP via Getty Images

Did you know?

Like many Brazilians before him, Cunha's first love was not mainstream football but a variation of it which helps players become incredibly skilful: Futsal. When speaking about his goal vs. Leverkusen, Cunha told…

"In Brazil, everyone jokes with me that it was a goal more from futsal and indoor football. The goal was definitely inspired by futsal because I used to play a lot of futsal and it's the sport that I love the most. I even like it more than outdoor football."

What they’re saying

"Matheus has something special. He can always produce something with a moment of individual brilliance." - Hertha head coach Bruno Labbadia

"Matheus is a young player with enormous potential, who has already shown his impressive skills" – Hertha Berlin sporting director Michael Preetz

"I believe my biggest aim is to play for the Brazil national team. I believe the national team environment, especially in the U23s, is the coolest environment a young footballer can have." – Cunha

Keep an eye on...

Cunha is far from the only talented young prospect making waves at Hertha. The likes of Javairo Dilrosun (21), Jordan Torunarigha (22) and Arne Maier (21) are all massively experienced in the Bundesliga already, and have bright futures ahead of them.

Former Manchester City youth product Dilrosun is one of the German top-flight's most explosive wingers. His pace, dribbling and range of skill make him a nightmare for Bundesliga full-backs. Torunarigha is a four-time Germany U21 international and has become a key component in Hertha's defensive wall, making eight of his nine appearances so far this season since the turn of the year.

Watch: Dilrosun's September Goal of the Month winner!

Fellow German Maier has had a tricky start to professional footballing life with injuries not on his side. Regarded as 'the next Toni Kroos', Maier wears braces in his mouth to aid a long-term spinal issue and missed all but two games of the first half of the 2019/20 season due to a knee injury. When he's fit and firing, though, Maier is the key cog in front of the Hertha defence, dictating how his team plays.