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Transfer Talk: Nunes can justify 'one of the best' tag at City
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Adam Drury
Matheus Nunes wants to join Manchester City this week
Matheus Nunes wants to join Manchester City this week

Matheus Nunes is so eager to leave Wolves for Manchester City that he has gone on strike.

The midfielder has underwhelmed at Molineux and the chance to play for Pep Guardiola — one of his biggest fans — is one he does not want to miss.

We analyse why City believe that the Portugal international can make them even better. 

'One of the best'

For many English football fans, it was Guardiola who first put Nunes' name on the map.

After City hammered Sporting 5-0 in the first leg of their last-16 tie in the 2021-22 Champions League, Guardiola said of one of his opponents: "Matheus Nunes is one of the best players in the world today."

Less than two years later, the 25-year-old has spent 12 months in the Premier League with Wolves and could well be set to link up with his public admirer.

Yet that statement — out of the blue at the time — does not sync up with a relatively low-key stint in the Midlands.

Matheus Nunes takes on Rodri of Manchester City last season
Matheus Nunes takes on Rodri of Manchester City last season

Wrong fit

A thumping winner against Chelsea in April was one of Nunes' only shows of world-class ability at Wolves.

The 11-cap international has otherwise struggled to impose himself in old gold, with his impressive dribbling skills considered too risky for a central midfielder in a bottom-half team.

Steve Davis — the club's interim manager last October and November — said: "We tried him in a two, but he was very loose in that position.

"We want him to be loose but he is better being loose in higher positions."

Playing in an advanced or wider role has seen Nunes shut out, though, as he struggles to get hold of the ball often enough to make an impact.

Dribbling machine

Wolves and City aim to do very different things and there is reason to believe that while Nunes did not suit the former, he might the latter.

Guardiola has previously referred to him as a "machine" when attacking space with the ball — and that he has completed more take-ons (11) than any other Premier League player this season backs up the claim.

The Brazil-born maestro will likely be used in a more conventional midfield position for the Premier League champions, who tend to dominate possession in the opposition's half.

And his relatively few goal contributions — one goal and one assist last season — will not be an issue for City, who do not lack for goal threat. 

He will be asked to get his side up the pitch and then work openings for others to take advantage of.

Matheus Nunes is an impressive dribbler
Matheus Nunes is an impressive dribbler

Crowded engine room

The arrival of another expensive midfielder spells bad news for one or two of City's existing options.

Though Guardiola will claim that Ilkay Gundogan and Riyad Mahrez needed replacing, Kalvin Phillips and Phil Foden will have hoped that those exits opened up the opportunity for them to move up the pecking order.

But with Mateo Kovacic now a fixture in the team, Julian Alvarez increasingly being used behind Erling Haaland, Bernardo Silva the first choice on the right-hand side and Jeremy Doku adding even more competition, there is no clear path into the side.

That goes particularly for Phillips, who very rarely plays and may be wise to push for a departure before the transfer deadline on Friday.


Premier LeagueManchester CityWolverhampton WanderersMatheus Nunes
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