Why has Juan Cuadrado's time at Chelsea been such a failure?
There have been many examples of good players moving to clubs and things not working out, for one reason or another. Sometimes ability and hard work aren’t enough to guarantee success, with an excellent example being Diego Forlan at Manchester United. He was given every opportunity to succeed and his work rate couldn’t be criticised, but he was viewed as a failure. The story of Juan Cuadrado at Chelsea is a similarly head-scratching case as he looks set to join Juventus in the coming days.
It was expected that he would get the opportunity to play under Antonio Conte this season at Chelsea, with the Italian favouring a 3-5-2 formation throughout his career. This would have brought out the best in Cuadrado, who is perfect for a wide position in such a formation, as he has showed at Fiorentina and Juventus in Serie A. However the other players in the Chelsea squad aren’t suited to a 3-5-2, which has significantly decreased the need for Cuadrado to remain at the club.
His failure in England has been a hotly debated subject, as he was very good for Juventus last season and he clearly possesses the quality to succeed, but things didn’t click for him at Chelsea. Despite there being several reasons suggested for his failure, it is difficult to decide which one holds true.
Firstly, one popular interpretation of his failure to succeed is the increased physicality of the Premier League. After he joined in the 2015 winter transfer window, he made twelve league appearances, but he didn’t contribute a single goal or assist. He couldn’t assert himself in matches and was easily pushed off the ball by experienced defenders. Although the physicality that exists in England was difficult to Cuadrado to deal with, it is no reason to discard him as quickly as Chelsea did. The majority of foreign players need time, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t good enough for the league. The growth of Erik Lamela over the last 12 months highlights this point.
From the outside looking in, the reason why Cuadrado hasn’t settled in at Chelsea appears to be a clash with Jose Mourinho. Although the winger hasn’t said anything bad about his former manager directly, he did ‘thank God’ for the opportunity to join Juventus last summer. Cuadrado was keen to leave Chelsea after just seven months at the club and that suggests all wasn’t well behind the scenes at Stamford Bridge.
The Colombian international arrived for just under £27 million, which is still the twelfth highest fee paid by the club. It was curious at the time that they let him depart after just half a season at the club and the only logical explanation is that Mourinho didn’t think was going to play a big part under him. The Portuguese manager has always struggled to manage creative players, with Juan Mata and Kevin de Bruyne two victims of his reign at Stamford Bridge. Cuadrado is a more dynamic and creative player than Willian, but he doesn’t possess the same work rate as the Brazilian, which is why he couldn’t break into Mourinho’s side.
At the time Cuadrado’s minor role was thought to be as a result of Mourinho being reluctant to change a winning team. They went on to win the title in that season and it was difficult for Cuadrado to break into the side after joining in January. However, it now looks like the Colombian didn’t fit into what Jose Mourinho was trying to build at Chelsea and as a result, he was given few opportunities, despite his huge transfer fee.
The latest developments have been unexpected once more, as Antonio Conte is a big fan and has stated his desire to keep the Colombian. The problem this time resides with the player himself, as he is keen on a return to Italy at all costs, according to Calcio Mercato. His last experience with Chelsea has done a lot of damage and he isn’t interested in trying to succeed under a different manage.
He looks set to move back to Juventus in the coming days, which would signal the end of his Chelsea career. Even if it is another loan, it is difficult to see a future for him at the club. Cuadrado’s move to Chelsea appears to have been a case of joining a club at the wrong time and under the wrong manager. He is an excellent player and one that would have adapted to the league given time, but it hasn’t worked out. It is best for all parties that he leaves this summer.
Featured image: All rights reserved by David Guzman
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