According to reports in the Spanish press, 23-year-old forward Matheus Aiás Barrozo Rodrigues from Watford is set to sign with Orlando City on a free transfer. Matheus, as he’s known, didn’t actually play for Watford, as he has been on loan to Club Deportivo Mirandés — located in Castile and León, Spain —since 2018.
Although we couldn’t get a solid confirmation of the Spanish reports that the rumored Orlando City signing is Matheus, there’s a lot of smoke on this one, not the least of which is Ricardo Moreira following him on Instagram. He also fits all of the criteria we’d heard about the player Orlando was targeting — a younger player who isn’t a big name and doesn’t come with a lot of fanfare, but with upside despite maybe being a bit of a project. I feel pretty good about this report coming to fruition — soon, based on previous Alex Leitao eyeball emoji tweets.
The São Paulo native helped Mirandés win promotion from the Spanish third division to the second division following the 2018-2019 season, in which he scored 11 goals in 39 league games. Last season, Matheus added two goals in 16 league appearances after jumping up to the second division. However, he was a Copa del Rey hero for Mirandés, scoring five goals in five games in last year’s competition against teams such as Sevilla and Villareal. Mirandés was finally bested by Real Sociedad in the semifinals, although Matheus scored in the match.
Matheus, who came up through the youth systems at Ponte Preta and Granada in Brazil , reportedly has terminated his contract with Watford and was in the process of finalizing a deal to join Orlando City in MLS.
What It Means for Orlando City
Matheus is a good player to take a chance on. Orlando City under Luiz Muzzi’s watch has done a good job of identifying talent and if the Lions believe this young Brazilian has enough upside to be worth the chance, I’m down with it.
Orlando City is thin at striker. There are bodies in the position but very little experience. Matheus at least provides some high-stakes cup experience against top competition, even if two goals in 16 second-division appearances is a bit underwhelming. There may have been underlying reasons for his poor production on an 11th-place team in the league last season but he certainly came through in Copa del Rey.
He will require an international slot and likely will have to go through some kind of quarantine process before joining the Lions for training, so don’t expect him to be available right away for what looks to be a grueling stretch of five games in 15 days.
The right approach is probably not to expect a ton, especially right away, but then be pleasantly surprised if he’s able to contribute. It’s likely not a high-cost signing and therefore it’s a low-risk move with potentially a good reward.