Matheus Nunes: Things to know about the Portuguese midfielder

Matheus Nunes is on the verge of a transfer
Matheus Nunes is on the verge of a transfer / Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Sporting CP have helped produce more than their fair shared of talented youngsters, and the latest gem off the production line looks to be 22-year-old midfielder Matheus Nunes.

Matheus enjoyed a breakthrough year in 2020/21 and looks to have already earned himself an expensive transfer, with Everton on the verge of snapping the midfielder up for a cool £15m.

If you don't already know about Matheus, here's your cheat sheet.

1. He's a real box-to-box midfielder

Matheus built up quite a fan-base at Sporting because of his ability as a do-it-all midfielder.

Comfortable dropping deep and using his 6'0 frame to bully opponents on the ground or in the air, Matheus loves to pick the ball up and drive at defenders, turning defence into attack in the blink of an eye.

His dribbling skills make Matheus' long runs really entertaining to watch, and his determination to make things happen on the pitch makes him a popular teammate.

2. He's very composed on the ball

To say he's this physical animal wouldn't be fair to Matheus, whose footwork and vision make him a surprisingly impressive playmaker as well.

The young midfielder enjoys scanning the pitch for space and the positions of his teammates, so he's always ready with an impressive first touch or an exciting pass to break the lines.

Matheus is by no means an elite passer of the ball, but he's good enough to hold his own. He can make things happen.

3. He idolises Ronaldinho

He might be a towering midfielder, but Matheus actually bases his game on Ronaldinho, and you can see that in his dribbling and movement.

"Ronaldinho is my idol," he told Sindicato dos Jugadores. "I've always tried to imitate him since I was a kid, and I've always liked the way he played.

"When he was at Barcelona, I liked Barcelona, When he was at AC Milan, I liked AC Milan, and it was unbelievable when he went to Flamengo because I'm a Flamengo fan. He's my idol because I've always had him as the image of what I wanted to be as a player."

4. He's undecided on his international future

Born in Rio de Janeiro, Matheus was raised in Brazil but took his talents to Portugal when he was 13, leaving him with a decision to make when it comes to his international allegiance.

"I feel both Brazilian and Portuguese," he told UOL. "It's half-and-half. Although my roots are in Brazil, I came here at a good age, when I wasn't exactly a child anymore. I really like both countries, but I prefer living here in Portugal.

"I would like to play for both national teams! Whichever calls me, I'll be very happy. It would be a dream come true."

5. He loves big games

Matheus doesn't score too many goals, but he seems to save them up for the biggest occasions.

In 2020/21, he scored perhaps the two most important goals of the campaign, bagging the winning strikes in top-of-the-table meetings with Benfica and Braga, and he wasn't far off doing the same against Porto either.

Despite his relative inexperience, Matheus seems to love the pressure that comes with those big games, and fans already see him as a clutch performer.

6. His nickname is 'Saint Matheus'

Because of his love of saving the day, Matheus earned himself the nickname 'Saint Matheus'.

It first popped up after Matheus' winning strike against Benfica in February, when the national media hailed him as a saint for his services to the club, and fans were all over it soon after.

Once he replicated his act of heroism against Braga, the nickname stuck like glue.

7. He's incredibly versatile

A central midfielder by trade, Matheus has a habit of popping up wherever he is needed on the pitch.

His future is as a midfielder, but he has been used as a winger on a number of occasions and has even filled in as an emergency full-back, where his love on bombing forward actually made him surprisingly dangerous.

Matheus is at his best in a central role, but he doesn't shy away from trying himself in other positions.

8. He wasn't a full-time footballer until 2018

By today's standards, Matheus was quite a late bloomer. When he was 19, he wasn't even a full-time footballer, instead splitting his time between the pitch and making bread rolls in a local bakery.

"I thought practically everything was lost when I was 20 years old," he recalls. "I was already telling my mother that becoming a footballer was no longer possible."

Things changed incredibly quickly for Matheus, who was signed by Estoril that year and needed just eight games to convince Sporting to let him fulfil his dream.

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