Juan Cuadrado dazzled during his time at Fiorentina as an attacking midfielder with great penetration and dribbling ability. During his time at Florence, the Columbian racked up 106 appearances scoring 26 goals in all competitions and significantly upped his valuation. Even though he was courted by many clubs at that time, English club Chelsea were the first to react and submitted a bid for the player of £23.3 million using Mohammad Salah as the part of the deal.
Cuadrado was brought in the January window as a cover for the departed players in Schurrle and Salah and he competed with Willian for the spot in the right wing. Cuadrado couldn’t perform to the best of his abilities for the remainder of the season and as a result, he was sent on loan to Juventus at the beginning of the next season. The move to Juventus proved fruitful and the Columbian shined again in the Serie A winning the league title as well as the Coppa Italia trophy in 2015/16.
After concluding another successful adventure with his national team in the Copa Centenario where Columbia finished 3rd, and with Antonio Conte being appointed the new boss of Chelsea, Cuadrado is all set to make a return to Stamford Bridge for next season. Antonio Conte was impressed with the 28-year old’s performances for the Turin club and has stated clearly that he would like to work with the player at Chelsea. The primary reason for this would be the versatility the player offers in terms of performing on the right flank which would relate perfectly with the manager’s game plan.
Cuadrado can play as a wing-back, winger or as a wide forward, something which gives his manager great options to utilize him in multiple systems. Conte has used fullbacks all through his career and has been very successful with the approach. Cuadrado’s ability to perform the role of a wingback could be key for Conte next season. The Columbian’s work rate and energy would be very well suited for that role, especially after excelling playing in the same position very recently for Juventus. Moreover, the attacking abilities of the player would allow Conte’s side to create effective overloads and provide the unpredictability during the attacking transformations from the right-hand side.
It must be realized that Willian was the club’s best player last season after being the lone spark amidst a disappointing group as he marshaled the right wing so Conte won’t be thinking of dropping the Brazilian out of his starting lineup. This is where Cuadrado becomes so effective and useful, playing from a deeper position, if the Italian manager decides to experiment with a back three, the wingback would allow the provision of utilizing both Willian and himself on the right-hand channel. Which would not only provide stability given the work rate of Cuadrado but would also mean that Chelsea will give their opponents much to think about when the likes of Cuadrado and Willian link up on the right and Hazard cuts inside from the left. It would be a very interesting situation for Chelsea, and definitely something which the opponents won’t be happy about at all.