“We are a big club, so winning important things [is my target]. Playing for this team, the league championship is I think the most important thing. As for everything else, Chelsea have big players so we want to win big things.”
The words of Juan Cuadrado himself upon signing for Chelsea. In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past 24 hours (or possibly the last seven days), the Premier League leaders have signed a certain Colombian from Fiorentina in a deal worth around £23.3m – which may rise to £26.8m – in an attempt to maintain their spot at the summit of the English game and keep Manchester City at bay.
The Citizens also made a big money addition in the shape of Wilfried Bony during the window just gone, but we think Cuadrado will have the bigger impact… and here are FIVE reasons why!
An attacking midfielder / winger should supply goals and assists, and it’s fair to say that Cuadrado does just that. His stats over last season, World Cup included, are impressive on both fronts, with 14 efforts that nestled in the back of the net and 12 lay-offs for team-mates across Serie A, Europa League and WC action.
A quick comparison with the stars he’s replacing at Chelsea – Mohamed Salah and Andre Schurrle – show that, per-90 minutes – Cuadrado offers more in terms of assists, even if his goal return isn’t quite impressive as Schurrle’s.
With a full strength XI out, Chelsea have a team capable of beating any side in the Premier League. While the defence has, for much of the season, picked itself, the attacking midfield positions have been open to a little rotation, with Eden Hazard, Oscar and Willian, largely, having played behind Diego Costa. While the first two have really impressed at Stamford Bridge, Willian has developed a reputation based more on his work-rate than his attacking flair, unusual for a Brazilian playmaker, and a genuinely exciting talent like Cuadrado may just add the spark that has been, at times, missing from the Blues’ attack.
As esteemed football journalist Gab Marcotti says, Cuadrado can beat his nearest man with ease. A mixture of pace, explosive power and lightening quick feet make the Colombian a fearsome foe for even the most adept of defenders, and with rearguards in the Premier League, arguably, the weakest they have been for a while, Cuadrado could get a fair amount of joy.
Villa could be the South American’s first opponents on Saturday, and the below clip shows that Paul Lambert may have a whole new headache to cope with…
It’s very rare that teams win the biggest completions without star quality in their ranks. Atletico sort of achieved the impossible last term – although they did have Diego Costa up front – but all the arrows point towards a need for world-class players, and Cuadrado is certainly in that bracket. Although not a household name outside of Italy, the Colombia international has been earning rave reviews in recent seasons and looks set to justify his price-tag and presence at The Bridge if he can maintain his form.
Although two have exited in the shape of Salah and Schurrle, Cuadrado’s addition actually offers a major boost in terms of depth for Mourinho. A quick glance at Cuadrado’s playing positions this season (below) shows that he can fill a host of roles on either flank and even through the centre of the pitch.
Salah and Schurrle were more at home on the wings, but Cuadrado’s versatility means Jose will be able to shuffle his options in the final third with greater ease, while, perhaps, option for a different option at right-back.