What Can We Expect From Chelsea’s New £23.3m Man?

Juan Cuadrado
Juan Cuadrado

We saw the full debut of Chelsea’s newest player in the midweek clash against Everton as Juan Cuadrado started on the right side of the offensive trio. We got a good hint of how things would be down Chelsea’s right hand side and what we could get in the coming seasons when we see Cuadrado in space or in one on ones with defenders.

The Colombian winger is a very balanced mixture of Chelsea’s team based attacking attributes. If you’d have noticed Schurrle play, he was usually reduced to a sharp shooter in the game, with not much flair in midfield. And when we see Willian on the right side, he is almost like the engine player helping out as a wingback with bare minimum offensive decisiveness. Willian’s work rate gives immense power and balance to the team, but he gets a lot of opportunities to contribute to the scoreline either by assisting or scoring, but is unable to convert them from the right side of the pitch. Willian prefers to play wide left or behind the striker, where he has performed best for Chelsea as well as Shakhtar.

Now we see Cuadrado, who is as tall as Willian and can run as fast as ever, a leaner version of the Brazilian and is a proper right winger. Given the fact that Cuadrado has played as a wing back as well, meant that he does cover up his defensive duties as per the manager’s requirements. Cuadrado offers the goal threat that Schurrle offered, maybe not as clinical though, but the flair that he brings as an experienced right winger is unparalleled in Chelsea so far. Cuadrado, when given an opportunity to attack freely, is a more dangerous player than Willian because he has the technique and knows how to get in shots firing from the right side.

What we saw on his debut day:

Juan Cuadrado, an exciting right winger, who is the closest Chelsea have to Eden Hazard on the right flank. His ability to overlap, beat a fullback from the outside and deliver powerful, driven crosses is something that Willian usually didn’t show on a regular basis. While we also saw that Cuadrado was among the first Chelsea players to get a shot off, almost scoring, immediately justifying the fact that he is technically better than any of Chelsea’s wingers (except Hazard) on the right flank. He is also a prominent counter attacking threat like any of Chelsea’s offensive trio, meaning Chelsea would not lose that attribute and maintain that balance.

The Colombian was also very smart in defense. He doesn’t have a solid core like Willian, but still manages to work hard and offer a challenge. It’s apparent that he will need to get more game time to settle into the physical demands of this league, but on his debut, he was pretty good. Also, the fact that he is aware of his position on the pitch is an added advantage to Mourinho, who somehow struggles with Eden Hazard’s inconsistent defensive positioning! Also, Cuadrado is a good player when playing behind the ball, which makes him a counter attacking threat if he manages to pinch the ball away.

He is also an early crosser and whips in crosses effectively. He did that on quite a few occasions against Everton, and when Diego Costa returns, he would become all the more important with the Spaniard offering a great target for the crosses. Also Cuadrado is prone to suffering fouls, just like Hazard. Though Willian used to suffer fouls as well, Cuadrado is a bit more ambitious with his dribbling and likes forcing people to commit into tackles. This unpredictability with Cuadrado’s dribbling caught people’s eyes and helped them rate him as a top player.

The Verdict:

We would expect Cuadrado to be in a rotation role with Willian on Chelsea’s right flank for the rest of the season, and the next season would be the ideal time to see who wins the first team position. His debut was promising, but again, a lot remains to see how fast he adapts to the league and whether he can replicate the decisiveness he showed in the World Cup and in Fiorentina. And with Willian showing immense form as a Central Attacking Midfielder along with Oscar also being in great form, Cuadrado would want to get running quickly to offer more tactical options to Mourinho. Overall, he is an excellent buy for Chelsea, who maintains the balance of the team and also adds flair to Chelsea’s right wing.