Matheus Nunes – Breaking The Lines

It’s been a turbulent year for Matheus Nunes, who has secured a starting place in Sporting’s midfield, been called up to the Portugal national team, played against Manchester City in the Champions League and attracted the attention of various top European teams with City manager Pep Guardiola said : “Matheus Nunes is one of the best players in the world today.”

It remains to be seen whether Matheus will remain at Sporting or leave Lisbon in the final weeks of the window like Nuno Mendes did last summer, but one thing is certain: he has no shortage of suitors. Let’s take a look at what makes Nunes such an intriguing midfield talent.

Born in Rio de Janeiro to a Portuguese father and Brazilian mother, Nunes moved to Portugal at the age of 12. He began his development at local club Ericeirense, spending a year at Estoril Praia before joining Sporting in January 2019 at the Lions’ expense in a total cost of around €1m for the 20-year-old.

In the 2021–22 season, after the departure of João Mário, Matheus would move to the XI and play normally as left central midfielder (despite being right footed) in Rúben Amorim’s 3-4-2-1 formation and shares the double pivot position with João Palhinha, who would join Fulham the following summer.

Before we move on to the in-game data, let’s take a look at how Matheus Nunes compares to Europe’s best central midfielders in key metrics. For example, if Matheus ranks in the 53rd percentile for key passing, that means his key passing stats are better than 53% of the midfielders in his dataset.

After analyzing Matheus’ style by numbers, we use the eye test to get a better picture of the Sporting midfielder. We use Four Corners’ individual analysis model, which evaluates the player based on their positional technical, tactical, physical and psychological characteristics.

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get skills

Nunes does well to look behind his shoulders and take several scans of his surroundings before receiving the ball, especially when facing his goal to gather information on the position of his teammates and opponents. OOn the other hand, he needs to improve in terms of his body shape and first contact when receiving the ball.

We can tell that due to his closed body shape and sub-par first touch, especially under pressure, he sometimes gives away the ball or fails to deliver a progressive pass; which perhaps explains his low progressive pass, miscontrol, and dispossession percentiles.

Dribble under pressure

Nunes has excellent dribbling technique under pressure, but he needs to know even better when to let go of the ball. Nonetheless, the Portuguese midfielder has a solid placement in most carry attributes and is one of the top-ranked players in attempted dribbles, with relatively lower percentiles for percentage of successful dribbles.

This is one of the skills that Matheus Nunes needs to improve significantly, especially considering the weight of his long passes that his teammates often fail to match. The low percentiles of final third passes, progressive passes, long pass percentage, and pass interceptions further underscore his need to improve in this area.

Matheus is a box-to-box midfield all-rounder and his attacking panache helps him stand out for Portugal and Sporting in the last third.

Nunes has a very good tackling technique as illustrated in the video below.

Although pressing is primarily considered a technical attribute, it is obviously dependent on physical attributes such as strength and endurance, and also psychological attributes such as aggression and work rate.

Nunes presses with great intensity, work rate, and endurance, but due to an undeveloped physical profile and lack of physical strength, he may lack aggression. This explains the high percentile in number of presses and the low rankings for successful pressing and ball recovery.

From the low percentiles for headed duels, we can conclude that Nunes struggles with his jumping and header technique, which can cause a lot of problems for his team in defensive set pieces. He needs to improve on that if he is to become a bigger threat when it comes to winning second balls and physical tackles – a fundamental trait when moving to the Premier League.

Availability to receive the ball

Nunes is a constant passing option for his teammates, especially in the build-up phase, and his impressive positional awareness allows him to act as an outlet for the ball against high-pushing opponents.

pass on awareness

One area of ​​improvement Nunes needs to focus on if he wants to become a world-class midfielder is his passing awareness. He needs to be more Watch out for the best passing option available, especially when his teammates are making dangerous forward runs, and pull the trigger and find them with a quick pass.

Nunes has solid positional awareness, impressive work rate (psychological attribute) and stamina (physical attribute) to perform well at winning second balls, covering and tracking opposing runners’ attributes as shown in the videos below.

mobility

The Portuguese midfielder excels at making multiple changes of direction in a short space of time, which helps him excel in dribbling and pressing, as shown in the video below.

bullet shielding

In addition to being a good dribbler, Nunes has excellent technique for shielding the ball from his opponent’s reach. When the opposing player tries to knock him off the ball, Nunes uses his hips, arms and back foot to keep the ball in his possession, but he still needs to build some muscle to make the move off the primeira and with cope with a physically demanding league like the Premier League.

communication

Perhaps one of Nunes’ most underrated qualities is his communication skills. he always speaks Speaking, shouting or waving at teammates to organize the pressing, maintain possession of the ball, maintain block compactness or even challenge the ball. These communication skills bode well for his future as captain and leader for club and country.

Make a decision

Decision-making is undoubtedly one of the biggest assets where Nunes needs improvement the most. As seen in the video below, Nunes is typical reads the situation well, but often chooses the riskiest option with no expected reward, often chooses the worst option.

game controls

Nunes stays composed under pressure and is able to keep the ball and control the tempo of the game for Sporting. He typically doesn’t rush passes until his teammates are in a situation that allows for ball retention or even numerical superiority over the opponent.

Matheus Nunes is a very promising and tactically well-built midfielder, but he has some important technical and physical traits that need to be greatly improved. Following João Palhinha’s departure to Fulham and Daniel Bragança’s long-term injury, he will play a big part in Rúben Amorim’s double pivot this season alongside Manuel Ugarte or Hidemasa Morita in Sporting’s midfield.

By: Loay Mamdouh / @loay_mamdou7

Featured image: @GabFoligno / Gualter Fatia / Getty Images

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