Chelsea brought some much-needed excitement to deadline day in the Premier League, snapping up Juan Cuadrado from Fiorentina in a £23million deal, sending Mohammed Salah the other way on loan and funding it by selling Andre Schurrle to Wolfsburg.
The Blues’ new signing comes with a preceding reputation from his time in Serie A and his performances at the 2014 World Cup, but how informed are you regarding the 26 year-old?
If you fancy impressing your mates down the pub with some insider knowledge on the Colombian international, here’s a list of FOUR things every Chelsea fan needs to know about him.
So without further ado…
Colombian compatriot James Rodriguez was the story of the 2014 World Cup, emerging from limited notoriety to win the Golden Boot award with six goals, and later the Puskas award for his strike against Uruguay, triggering a £65million move to Real Madrid.
Juan Cuadrado’s World Cup performances however, as South American football expert Tim Vickery reports, weren’t too far behind, and the Chelsea signing eventually finished the tournament joint-top of the assist rankings, alongside Germany’s Toni Kroos, with four.
Whereas the Mannschaft playmaker made seven appearances however, Cuadrado amassed his impressive total in just five. With many of his set-ups falling to Rodriguez, he played a major role in the 23 year-old’s explosion onto the world stage.
Although Cuadrado is primarily considered to be a winger, he’s featured in virtually every position for Fiorentina throughout his Serie A career with the exception of goalkeeper and centre-half. Take a look at the plethora of diverse roles he was utilised in last season for example, shown above.
It’s been a similar case this year and indeed, many appear to have slightly different views on what the 26 year-old’s defining role actually is. He started his career as a centre-forward, for example, and Barcelona were once targeting him as an industrious, attack-orientated successor to right-back Dani Alves.
So not only will the Colombian international strengthen Jose Mourinho’s wide options, but also the Chelsea squad throughout. His ability to play further back also highlights Cuadrado’s defensive qualities, which brings us onto…
Some have been left slightly bemused by Cuadrado’s £23million arrival at Stamford Bridge. That’s not a swipe at the 26 year-old’s quality, more confusion over his many shared traits with another Chelsea player – Willian – who he’ll spend much of his time jostling for a first team role with.
Indeed, the South American pair share many attributes, most notably their pace, power, skilful dribbling and defensive contribution. There are some important differences between the two however, perhaps giving some insight into Jose Mourinho’s thinking.
The predominant difference being that Willian, despite playing on the right of midfield, is more of an an inside player, doing his best damage in the middle of the pitch – the area that proved so successful for him at Shaktar Donetsk. Likewise, his all-round contribution to Chelsea’s performances remains undoubted, especially defensively, but the Brazilian lacks output, managing just five goals and three assists in 47 Premier League appearances.
Cuadrado, on the other hand, will offer the Blues unique width. He likes to venture inside too, but is also capable of hugging the touchline and beating full-backs on their outside. That’s something Willian – and even Eden Hazard – don’t tend to do in quite the same way. Furthermore, he’ll be far more influential in the final third, at least in theory, boasting an impressive 15 goals and nine assists in his last 49 Serie A outings.
You might be wondering why Chelsea went to such great lengths to switch their winger options mid-season, snapping up Cuadrado for £23million, sending Mohammed Salah to Fiorentina on loan and funding it all by selling Andre Schurrle to Wolfsburg.
There were certainly other factors involved, but the prevailing one may well have been the fact the Colombian is eligible for the Champions League under UEFA rules, despite joining the west Londoners half way through the campaign.
Fiorentina aren’t involved in the CL – they’re part of its sister tournament, the Europa League. So he can slot straight into the Blues’ registered squad.
Although the ultimate prize for Chelsea this term remains the Premier League title, they’re widely expected to progress to the latter stages of the European tournament too. Not only do they have the quality to do so, but they’re also a side tailor-made for double-leg affairs, whilst Jose Mourinho’s reputation in the Champions League remains undoubted, winning it with Porto in 2004 and again with Inter Milan in 2010.
Whereas other potential January targets, such as Marco Reus, would only have been able to contribute in the Premier League, Cuadrado’s availability could become a major advantage in the club’s European ambitions between now and May.