The Value of Cuadrado to Chelsea


With the recent addition of right winger Juan Cuadrado, many have questioned the value he can bring to a Chelsea side that leads the Premier League by 5 points and how his addition will affect the playing time of Willian, Chelsea’s regular starting right winger, who has developed into a hard working winger who has sacrificed his natural playmaking abilities for the betterment of his club.

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Balances Out the Chelsea Side

While Mourinho was able mold Willian from the creative, ball-playing left winger who arrived from Shaktar Donetsk into a hard working right winger who brought defensive balance to Chelsea’s midfield, Cuadrado is more naturally inclined for this defensive role while also bringing an improved attacking threat.

Developed as a forward, winger, and fullback during his youth and early professional career at the Columbian side Independiente Medellín, then as a wingback after moving to Italy with Lecce, and Cuadrado developed into one of the most complete wingers in world football with Fiorentina.

In both attack and defense, Cuadrado will balance out Chelsea’s side. In defense, in conjunction with right fullback Branislav Ivanovic, Cuadrado will undertake a role similar to that of Angel Di Maria when he thrived under Mourinho at Real Madrid.

As he did with Arjen Roben during Mourinho’s first tenure as Chelsea manager and Cristiano Ronaldo during Mourinho’s tenure at Real Madrid, Mourinho will use Cuadrado’s work rate and defensive awareness to lock down Chelsea’s right defensive side allowing left-winger Eden Hazard, to shirk his defensive responsibility and focus on being Chelsea’s primary creating attacking midfielder.

In attack, Caudrado brings much more of an attacking threat than Willian, averaging .25 goals per game (Willian .06), .25 assists per game (Willian .06), and creating 2.25 chances per match (Willian 1.36). He also brings width to Chelsea’s attack, preferring to attack directly, to balance out the drifting of Hazard who prefers to link play. This will also allow Ivanovich to play deeper, providing Chelsea more defensive protection in advanced positions.

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  • Big Match Player

     In bigger matches, Mourinho is naturally reactive, looking to allow his opposition to have the ball and attempt to attack them on the counter when they are stretched and vulnerable. Cuadrado fits perfectly into this style of play and with his work rate he will be comfortable playing without and chasing the ball for long stretches of matches.

    His blistering pace will threaten the space behind advanced left fullbacks who will be forced to attack, as Mourinho is a master of clogging central midfields and forcing his opposition to create from wide areas. This could lead to Cuadrado becoming Chelsea’s primary outlet into the space created behind opposition high defensive lines.

    Also, with his elite dribbling skills he can create scoring chances when he is isolated in the disjointed attacks that arise when Mourinho chooses to play his preferred deep defensive line and combative central midfield.

    Tactical Flexibility

     While the right wing is Cuadrado’s primary position he can also play as a left winger, allowing the opportunity to replace Hazard, whether through rest or injury. He is also an excellent attacking fullback, allowing Mourinho a different option if attacking width is needed from the flanks in situations where Chelsea need a goal.