Colombian international Juan Cuadrado stands at the centre of one of the January transfer window’s biggest circuses as Premier League titans Chelsea prepare to land the Fiorentina winger.
Links to Europe’s elite are nothing new for the 26-year-old, as he had attracted serious interest from Barcelona and Manchester United last summer when his star was at its highest point following a superb season in Florence and a prominent role at the World Cup.
However, things have not always been so glamorous for Cuadrado and a move to Jose Mourinho’s side would come as a result of his determination and adaptability – not to mention a fair share of talent.
The winger first arrived on the peninsula in 2009 after the famously earnest Udinese scouting system had clocked him as he played a key role in Medellin’s 2008 Colombian title bid. However, this was a rare occasion in which the Zebrette did not get the best from their extensively scouted South American, as he first made an impression while on loan at Lecce for the 2011-12 season.
He impressed enough in that season to earn a move to Florence and this proved to be the most decisive moment of his career. Under Vincenzo Montella, Cuadrado was transformed from a marauding wing-back, who thrived on the right hand side of a 3-5-2 formation, into a direct and purposeful winger.
The change in role from Montella was inspired. In his first season, the Colombian scored five times and made seven assists and this haul increased in his second campaign to 11 goals and eight assists. It saw Cuadrado enter the World Cup last summer in the form of his life. His career had been one of rapid improvement, in which he was constantly breaking personal records and defying the odds at every turn.
The World Cup would prove to be his biggest moment yet. A hugely entertaining and impressive Colombian side became the most successful their nation had ever seen by reaching the quarter-finals, where they were unlucky to lose out to hosts Brazil.
While most of the plaudits fell on the step of James Rodriguez, who finished as top scorer, Cuadrado was stibbin真人糖果派对ll quietly earning new accolades. Along with Toni Kroos, the Viola man’s four assists made him the top assist provider at the tournament.
Halfway through a mixed campaign in Florence this season, he has chipped in with four goals and three assists. His rapid improvement and consistency of performance is what has resulted in the proposed €33m move, but also it is hard to see how much more he can hope to achieve in Florence and therefore a move to Mourinho’s Chelsea at his peak age would seem too good an opportunity to pass up.
However, a move to London will provide new challenges previously unknown to Cuadrado. The level of competition for places will be fierce, and his first task will be to usurp the popular and hard-working Willian.
At Fiorentina, Cuadrado’s place in the side has rarely been at risk. On top of that, he hasn’t been at a top-level club competing for both domestic and European honours, whilst the physical side of the English game could come as something of a shock to the lightweight winger.
But under the tutelage of Mourinho and with an exciting style of play that could quickly get fans behind him, a Premier League switch could prove to be exactly the right move for a footballer at the peak of his powers. It will just require another demonstration of that proven adaptability.
Without Cuadrad永利官网o, Fiorentina will undoubtedly be less of a force. It is a shame for La Viola to lose such an influential player just as their form begins to pick up, but the fee they will receive is substantial enough to reinforce the entire squad with some wily work in the market.
The Colombian’s shadow will loom large over the Stadio Artemio Franchi. It has been a pitch on which many legends of the game have flourished on their way to bigger things – Gabriel Batistuta, Roberto Baggio and Manuel Rui Costa to name a few – and Cuadrado will depart with the hope of continuing his rapid asce百威棋牌ndance.