American striker Matthew Hoppe has joined Middlesbrough for £2.5m after a tough season at RCD Mallorca in La Liga.
Matthew Hoppe is actually a product of Barcelona’s academy system. Well… sort of. At 16 years old, he joined the Barcelona Residency Academy based in Arizona, USA and after two seasons there he was signed by Schalke, so the kid clearly has the talent.
Let’s get started as to why things didn’t work out for Hoppe at Mallorca. He joined Los Piratas last summer for €3m from Schalke following their relegation and made a few appearances at the start of the 21/22 season, including getting an assist against Real Madrid.
Injuries ruined the first half of the season for Matthew and sadly due to that, Mallorca went into the January transfer window looking for a new temporary striker to help keep them in La Liga; that striker was Vedat Muriqi on loan from Lazio. Vedat ended up being one of the best strikers in La Liga in the second half of last season and kept Hoppe out of the line-up.
So, what kind of player are Middlesbrough getting in Matthew Hoppe? Hoppe is one of those players that will give their everything, every game. A young striker who’s full of energy and a comfortable finisher on both feet. He’s a fighter on the pitch, sometimes quite literally, who will become a fan favourite in Teesside in no time at all.
An underrated part to Hoppe’s game is his hold up playmaking ability. He will fit very nicely in Chris Wilder’s two striker formation, similar to what he flourished in at Schalke.
While on the topic of Schalke, that part of his career needs to be mentioned. The last time Hoppe was given a proper chance at club level, as a 19 year old. Hoppe broke into the main team at Schalke midway through the 20/21 season, and set the league alight almost immediately.
Matthew scored six goals in his first seven appearances, including an impressive hat trick against Hoffenheim, becoming the third youngest hat trick scorer in Bundesliga history. But this hot streak wasn’t able to continue much longer when David Wagner understandably chose to start the more experienced strikers to close out the season in hopes of staying up.
However, impressive performances at Schalke earned him an international call up to the USMNT just in time for the Gold Cup. Hoppe played a vital role in the competition, scoring a goal and providing an assist in five appearances to help USA win the competition. Due to his experiences at Mallorca, Hoppe has since lost his place in Berhalter’s squad, but will want to get off the mark immediately in Teesside in hopes of getting on the plane to Qatar in November.
As a whole, in the right situation, Matthew Hoppe has potential to be a brilliant striker, and I believe that Middlesbrough is a perfect place for him to be at this important stage of his career. Playing alongside USA teammate Zack Steffen, he should settle in nicely into Chris Wilder’s plans, and hopefully tear the championship apart.