Leeds can leave Man Utd red-faced in ‘four-team hunt’ for Cunha

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Leeds United are reportedly caught up in a four-way tussle for Atletico Madrid forward Matheus Cunha. If manager Jesse Marsch pips the competition, the Whites could leave Manchester United red-faced after Cunha reportedly rejected the chance to head to Old Trafford during the summer. 

Despite turning 23 years old earlier this year, Cunha has already played for four clubs across Switzerland, Germany and Spain. After a relatively prolific spell with Hertha Berlin, he was snapped up by Atletico last year but he has failed to convince manager Diego Simeone that he is worthy of a consistent starting spot. 

This campaign, he hasn’t notched a single goal in La Liga but the vast majority of his 11 appearances have come from the bench. It is now expected that Atletico will look to move the Brazilian on in January before his price tag plummets any further. 

According to Relevo, Leeds are among the clubs to have knocked on Atletico’s door regarding Cunha’s availability. Everton have supposedly done the same, but Aston Villa and Wolves lead the way ahead of the January transfer window. 

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Atletico forked out just over £20million to sign Cunha from Hertha in 2021 but, according to recent estimates, his value currently sits at £17m. The Brazilian was supposedly one of the options Man Utd explored when they looked to add attacking reinforcements during the summer. 

Ajax drove a hard bargain over Erik ten Hag’s first-choice forward, Antony, and the Dutch outfit eventually got their wish as United forked out his mammoth £84m price tag. Even so, Cunha may well have been ruled out as a back-up option after Mundo Deportivo claimed that he had rejected the chance to move to Old Trafford in favour of staying in Spain. 

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Several months down the line, the forward’s circumstances are different and an Atletico exit seems like the most likely outcome after the turn of the year. The fight for minutes up top under Simeone is hugely competitive with Antoine Griezmann, Alvaro Morata, Angel Correa and Joao Felix already vying for regular game time. 

Although Leeds have ground to make up, landing Cunha after he snubbed Man Utd could be a good opportunity to get one over on their bitter rivals, who seem to have switched their attention to Netherlands star Cody Gakpo. The £52m man scored in each of his nation’s first three World Cup matches before drawing a blank in the win over the USA on Saturday. 

While Cunha was denied the opportunity to prove his worth in Qatar after failing to make the Brazil squad, despite having eight caps to his name already, Gakpo has certainly caught the eye and Brentford centre-back Ben Mee has compared him to one of the Premier League’s brightest stars. 

“There is something of Kevin De Bruyne about [Gakpo], and he is developing a similar range and vision in his passing as the Manchester City forward,” he wrote for The Athletic. “I’ve seen him deliver pinpoint passes with the outside of his boot, clever balls guided round the corner or into space for team-mates to collect on the run, and he clearly has a decent cross in him.”

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