By George Rinaldi.
Chelsea new boy Juan Cuadrado was once derided by Fiorentina fans for his inconsistency, but the Colombian winger has since matured into the kind of player capable of catching Jose Mourinho’s eye.
As a rather mediocre January transfer window came to a close, many fans were left disappointed by their teams’ activity across the day. Chelsea had other ideas as they finally completed the £26.8million signing of Fiorentina’s Juan Cuadrado. The versatile Colombian jetted in before the typical shirt photos were unveiled. The 26-year-old was now a Blue and is in the hands of a certain Jose Mourinho.
As a supporter of Fiorentina, and specialising in Italian football, it was a shame to see Cuadrado set sail for England but it’s an opportunity he could never turn down. The Viola had brought him in from Udinese on a part-ownership basis back in 2012 and honestly, he was a very hit-and-miss player. Something of an enigma. Always one step over too many instead of a simple cross or opting to try and score a belter from 30 yards instead of passing was a common feature of his game.
Don’t fret though Chelsea fans, the tricky player was just stuck in that young euphoria of being a professional footballer. Nowadays Cuadrado is much more reliable in the team. He spent much of last season helping out the defence by tracking back on a consistent basis and giving 100 per cent. There were eleven goals and eight assists – a marked improvement on his five goals and seven assists the previous campaign.
It propelled him to where he is today. Andrea Della Valle, co-owner of the Florence-based club, knew the offers would soon arrive in the summer of 2014. Barcelona had been on the hunt for his signature, but the Catalans missed out with Cuadrado opting to sign over 100 per cent ownership to his current team. A strong World Cup for Colombia only increased his worth, despite the fact he seemed to remain in the shadow of one James Rodriguez. But four assists – the joint best alongside eventual cup winner Toni Kroos of Germany – speaks volumes.
His performances in Serie A this term meant his days in the purple jersey were numbered, however. Fiorentina coach Vincenzo Montella opted for the wing-back approach this season, something he was actually known for when he joined the club. It was clear Cuadrado lacked guidance back then with the coach helping to nurture him and refine those abilities. Along came Chelsea, and soon he was a Blue.
Winger or wing-back is the choice of Mourinho. He is a man who likes his wingers and Cuadrado will be put through his paces at Stamford Bridge. New competition from Eden Hazard and Willian awaits, which is somewhat different to fighting out Joaquin back in Florence. Cuadrado is much like his new Brazilian team-mate – a little bit in the shadow of some of the world’s best such as Hazard, but brings 100 per cent dedication and effort, which is worthy of a place in any team.
It will be most interesting to see how the Colombian will adapt to the English game. He joins up with a team competing for all the major honours – with the exception of the FA Cup – and will also be meeting some of the toughest and strongest defenders out there. Cuadrado has to stamp his authority straight away for Chelsea to prove he really is the captivating Colombian all Blues fans want to see.
Will Juan Cuadrado be a hit in the Premier League? Where will he fit into Mourinho’s pecking order?
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