Chelsea eventually completed the protracted signing of Colombian winger Juan Cuadrado on deadline day. With Andre Schurrle and Mohamed Salah leaving Stamford Bridge, was the £23.3m capture of Cuadrado a good bit of business for the Blues? And what does he have to offer an already very talented team?
After Cuadrado’s fine World Cup campaign for Colombia in the summer, the 26-year-old caught the eye and became a number one target for Jose Mourinho. The pacy winger was again enjoying another fine season in Serie A with Fiorentina, prompting the Chelsea boss to go out and get his man. Cuadrado has played 23 times and scored six goals in all competitions for the Italian club, and will be hoping to carry this form into the Premier League.
So what will Juan Cuadrado bring to Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea? Sky Sports pundit Thierry Henry thinks the Chelsea strikers will love playing with Cuadrado – the ex-Arsenal goal machine, speaking after Chelsea’s 1-1 draw with Manchester City on Saturday, said:
“Everybody saw the World Cup, the way he performed – he’s a special player. He can beat anyone at any time and he’s a proper winger also – that’s something you don’t see often now, guys that want to go down the line and beat people and cross. That’s what you want if you’re a striker, so I think he will be – if he comes to Chelsea – a special player.”
Obviously, with Cuadrado coming into Stamford Bridge, it meant players heading out. Mohamed Salah, who has struggled to get his Chelsea career up and running since arriving from Basel last January, went the other way and signed for Fiorentina on loan until the end of the season. The other casualty was the popular Andre Schurrle, who completed a £22m switch back to his native Germany with Wolfsburg. Schurrle didn’t feature in Mourinho’s first-team plans as much as he would have liked, making the move back to league where he first made his name.
Cuadrado is another exciting addition to what is already a very talented Chelsea squad. He’s rated very highly and at just £23m, could turn out to be the bargain of the January transfer window. The Blues currently sit pretty at the top of the Premier League table, five points clear of Manchester City. Not only do Mourinho’s team sit at the summit of the Premier League, they are into the final on the Capital One Cup, and have a Champions League knockout tie against Paris Saint-Germain coming up.
Cuadrado’s pace, skill and ability to put good service into the box should make him a success at Stamford Bridge. With Willian, Eden Hazard and now Cuadrado all fighting for positions on the flanks, Chelsea are blessed on the counter and it will be very interesting to see just what sort of impact the Colombian will have on the Premier League.
At 26, Cuadrado has finally earned his chance to perform in the English top flight, and he may just have arrived at Chelsea at the perfect time. With Mourinho’s side still fighting strong for silverware domestically and in Europe, it could be a very memorable chapter in Chelsea’s history.