Unveiling the Strategy: How Marc Cucurella Fits in Manchester United’s Game Plan

Marc Cucurella, replacement for Luke Shaw, Diogo Dalot (Photo by Soccrates/Getty Images)
Marc Cucurella, replacement for Luke Shaw, Diogo Dalot (Photo by Soccrates/Getty Images) /

Manchester United are linked with Chelsea’s Marc Cucurella to fill the left-back spot on a temporary basis

As per recent reports, Erik ten Hag’s team has initiated contact with Chelsea to explore the possibility of securing Marc Cucurella’s services on a short-term basis for the remainder of the season. Manchester United is currently grappling with an injury predicament on the left side of their defense, with both Luke Shaw and Tyrell Malacia sidelined for an extended duration. Consequently, the Old Trafford side finds itself in the transfer market seeking to address the vacancy, at least temporarily.

The report read:

"EXCL: Manchester United made contact with Chelsea to ask about conditions of Marc Cucurella deal on potential loan — no bid or concrete talks yet"

Apprehensions have arisen within the Manchester United supporter community regarding Marc Cucurella’s recent displays. Nevertheless, orchestrating a fruitful loan agreement could potentially enhance the Red Devils’ prospects in the upcoming 2023/24 season.

Manchester United fullback conundrum

At the commencement of the 2023/24 season, Manchester United boasted a lineup inclusive of Aaron Wan Bissaka, Luke Shaw, Brandon Williams, and Diogo Dalot, with the exception of Tyrell Malacia, who was still tending to an injury. This department seemed to be among the club’s least concerned during the ongoing summer transfer window.

However, an injury to Shaw has opened the can of worms at Old Trafford. Diogo Dalot has filled the void but has been shaky throughout. Simultaneously, Aaron Wan Bissaka has displayed enhancements in his attacking prowess, yet his adaptability to the left flank remains limited. As a result, Erik ten Hag finds himself considering the inclusion of Alvaro Fernandez, a promising Spanish prodigy, into the senior squad.

Notably, Fernandez has yet to make an appearance in the Manchester United senior squad jersey. Despite commendable statistics, thrusting him directly into the rigours of Premier League fixtures appears to be a formidable undertaking. The decision to loan out the seasoned Brandon Williams, in hindsight, might be deemed an ill-advised move by Manchester United in the present circumstances.

Why is Marc Cucurella an excellent choice for Manchester United?

Following Brighton and Hove Albion’s acquisition of Marc Cucurella for €18 million from Getafe, the player delivered exceptional performances for the former side under the leadership of Graham Potter in the Premier League, significantly contributing to their top-ten finish. During his tenure with the Seagulls, Cucurella notched a goal and an assist, while showcasing his defensive prowess with an average of 2.71 tackles per 90.

Based on his impactful displays, Chelsea spared no expense in securing the 24-year-old’s services for a hefty €65 million in the summer of 2022. Despite initially featuring prominently upon his arrival at Stamford Bridge, he found himself benched as Chelsea encountered difficulties. Despite his limited top-flight appearances, Cucurella managed to contribute two assists.

A comparative analysis of Diogo Dalot, Sergio Reguillon (also of interest to Manchester United), and Marc Cucurella reveals that they’ve accrued three, five, and two goal/assist involvements, respectively. Notably, Cucurella outshines the others in terms of his adeptness in ball distribution, boasting an impressive pass completion rate of 84.3%, while Dalot (79.2%) and Reguillon (75.5%) fall slightly behind.

Defensively, Cucurella maintains an imposing presence with an average of 3.55 tackles per 90 minutes, overshadowing Dalot’s 2.26 and Reguillon’s 1.88 tackles per 90. Despite ranking second among the trio in successful take-ons, Cucurella’s exceptional game intelligence and defensive acumen remain unparalleled, rendering him a robust choice in Erik ten Hag’s considerations.

(Stats via transfermarkt and fbref)

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While Manchester United has traditionally prioritized affording opportunities to its burgeoning talents and homegrown players, the prevailing circumstances of mounting injuries and a congested fixture list compel the Red Devils to seek a proficient left-back. This strategic move aims to bridge the gap until the injured contingent regains fitness and returns to action.