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Will the Premier League miss out on Colombia’s Juan Cuadrado?

The Boot Room



Somewhat overshadowed at the World Cup by the performances of his countryman James Rodriguez, Fiorentina’s flying winger Juan Cuadrado certainly showed enough promise to warrant the interest of some of the top European clubs to. Even before the World Cup begun, Cuadrado was being strongly linked to Barcelona with the exit of Dani Alves looking likely. However, with Alves now set to stay put, would a Premier League move be of more benefit the Colombian?

Born in Necoclí Colomia, Cuadrado began his career as a striker for local club Atletico Uraba aged 12. It was at Uraba that club founder Nelson Gallego insisted the youngster was moved to the wing due to his blistering pace even at such a young age. Cuadrado eventually impressed local scouts enough to earn a move to top division Colombian side Independiente Medellin in 2008 aged 20. While the initial progression from youth player to professional maybe took longer than normal, his rise has been almost meteoric since.

In July 2009, Udinese signed Cuadrado to a five year contract for fee that was never disclosed, and made his debut as a Right Wingback. First team opportunities were limited at Udinese however, with the formation at the time meaning Cuadrado’s only way into the side was indeed as a Right Wing back. Udinese having a settled defence, including another of Cuadrado’s fellow countrymen Cristian Zapata, meant a loan move was best for all parties. Lecce was the destination – but 33 league games and 3 goals wasn’t enough to save his adopted side from relegation from Serie A.

Evidently, Fiorentina saw something in Cuadrado that few other teams had at the time. For only £880,000, Fiorentina got Cuadrado for two seasons initially. While not setting the world alight, Cuadrado impressed whilst helping La Viola to a 4th place league finish, finishing the 2012-13 season with 5 goals and 6 assists.

Cuadrado felt the confidence of manager Vincenzo Montella in 2013-14 season, and the summer signings of Giuseppe Rossi and Mario Gomez appeared to give the whole club an added lift. A second successive 4th place finish left Fiorentina just short of the Champions League spots, but with plenty to build on. Cuadrado himself was one of the outstanding performers in the league. In 32 league games, Cuadrado scored 11 goals and provided 7 assists for his teammates too. Naturally, this lead to speculation from the likes of Barcelona, Manchester United and Real Madrid, but he wasn’t finished just yet.

Selection in the Colombia World Cup squad was the next obvious step. Jose Pekerman started Cuadrado in every game out in Brazil – and the flyer didn’t disappoint. A penalty against Japan opened his goals account, but he also finished the tournament tied with Toni Kroos as the assist leader with 4 assists. His gifted dribbling ability, close control and astute end product was perfect for Colombia’s quick tempo play, but his great stamina and brave tackling showed a different side to his game too – something which would suit him to the Premier League you would think.

Versatility is another string to Cuadrado’s bow, and could be major factor in such widespread interest too. While being able to play on both wings, he has operated at Right Back, Right Wing Back, and even in the number 10 position behind the main striker. In Serie A last season, Cuadrado averaged an impressive 4 successful dribbles and 2 key passes per game, with a pass success rate of 86%.

Pep Guardiola’s willingness to play Phillip Lahm in Centre Midfield for Bayern Munich means the Bavarians lack a World Class operator at Right Back/Right Wingback, despite Rafinha filling in well. Cuadrado could be the perfect addition to Bayern’s already star studded squad, and who could pass up the chance to play for such a special young side under one of the best managers in the game.

Barcelona could be a good destination for Cuadrado too. New manager Luis Enrique looks set to ring the changes throughout the side while focusing on the defence primarily. Dani Alves has been a great servant to Barca over the years, but his questionable defending lead to long term question marks over his club future – and even Luis Felipe Scolari dropping the Right Back after three games at the World Cup. Cuadrado would make sense as a long term replacement.

Manchester United need to spend big this summer to find their way back into the Champions League, and Cuadrado would be perfect for Van Gaal’s 3-5-2 formation. A nice balance of attacking and defensive qualities in his game could only have impressed Van Gaal over the last last year. With a rumoured £150million available should the Dutchman see fit to use it, Cuadrado would be a great addition to the Starting XI for around £30million.

After such a season, Cuadrado will have a host of top clubs to choose from all over Europe. As much as I would love to see him in the Premier League, it looks very likely that he will join Barcelona at this stage, (and who could blame him?!) with rumours building every day. Fiorentina had to pay £17million only two months ago to obtain full ownership of Cuadrado’s playing rights. It now looks like money very well spent whether they end up keeping the player for next season, or sell him for up to £30million and make a good return for their money this summer.

The Boot Room is a football analysis website, bringing original and creative content to the fans of the English Football League.


Would Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembele make Liverpool title contenders?

Jurgen Klopp has expressed his interest in the 20-year-old.

Josh Kerr



Photo: Getty Images

Liverpool should make a move for the La Liga ace Ousmane Dembele if the Barcelona winger becomes available this summer.

Manager Jurgen Klopp spoke of his fondness for the 20-year-old in a press conference yesterday and suggested he may be interested in signing the French international.

In quotes reported by the Daily Mail, Klopp admitted he was interested in the former Borrusia Dortmund forward by saying: “Is he on the market? Now I’m interested.”

Klopp’s interest may not actually lead to the club pursuing Dembele.

However, with a current squad losing bodies by the day following a large number of injuries to crucial players, Dembele would be a perfect addition for the Reds.

Some would argue he even may be capable of challenging Sadio Mane in the club’s starting eleven.

(Photo by Cristina Quicler/Getty Images)

Reports linking the club with Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann could spell concerns to the 20-year-old that he isn’t in Ernesto Valverde’s future plans.

The arrival of Dembele’s fellow countryman will make it significantly more difficult for him to keep his place alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

Dembele endured a tough first season for the La Liga champions, which included only nine Primera Division starts due to a long-term hamstring injury.

Understandably, a club as competitive as Barcelona can’t afford to wait around for Dembele to fulfill his outstanding potential and, therefore, a move may make sense.

The world’s third most expensive player certainly has the talent to be one of the brightest stars in the game.

If Liverpool genuinely want him, they will have to fork out a lot more than the initial £96.8 million that Barca paid less than 12 months ago.

Following Barcelona’s drawn-out pursuit of former Reds talisman Philippe Coutinho, the tables could now turn.

This time, it would be Jurgen Klopp’s side testing the Catalan giants resolve in their attempts to pry away a once-prized possession for an astronomical fee.

Dembele was initially considered a panic buy after the departure of Neymar to Paris Saint Germain and the Catalan’s failure to sign Coutinho in the same window.

(Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images)

Having now captured Coutinho, and with the club being linked with Griezmann, both of whom can slot into Barcelona’s famous front three, it is difficult to see what Dembele’s role in the team will be next season.

At just 20 years of age, the Frenchman is too talented to sit on the bench and with Liverpool proving themselves to be among the best in Europe this season, he could be the perfect player for Klopp to break the bank, to ensure the Reds continuing improving under his control.

With Naby Keita set to join this summer, and considering Virgil van Dijk’s immediate impact, the addition of another top player, in the form of Dembele, could be the move that allows Klopp’s side to seriously contend for the Premier League next season.

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Is Barcelona’s Andre Gomes the man to take West Ham to the next level?



Photo: Getty Images

This season has been a disappointing one for West Ham as they have once again failed to match the rising expectations of fans and owners after their move to the London Stadium, but there could be hope in the summer with rumours of a sensation signing from Spain.

Barcelona midfielder Andre Gomes is believed to be a target, according to the Mirror, as he looks for a fresh start after a disappointing two years at the Camp Nou.

The former Benfica and Valencia man has struggled to adapt since joining the La Liga leaders and has only been a bit part player this season, with the Hammers ready to make a move to bring him to London.

(Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images)

There is no doubting that such a signing would be a coup given the quality of Gomes that he so regularly displayed before moving to Catalonia and he could benefit from moving to a club content with fighting for Europe, rather than titles.

The Portugal international relished his role as a leader in attack and the freedom that came with it in the past, so much so that it earned him his big-money move, and a deal taking him to West Ham could see him return to such a role.

David Moyes’ side have been sorely lacking creativity, particularly with Manuel Lanzini out injured and struggling for consistent form, and Gomes could be the man to help lead a charge back up the table next season after a disastrous 2017/18.

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Chelsea 1-1 Barcelona: Three talking points from Stamford Bridge

Rob Meech brings us three talking points as Chelsea held La Liga leaders Barcelona to a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge.

Rob Meech



Photo: Reuters

Lionel Messi finally broke his goalscoring duck against Chelsea to give Barcelona the edge after the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.

Messi had failed to score in eight previous attempts against the Blues, but he was not to be denied on this occasion as he cancelled out Willian’s 62nd-minute opener.

A Chelsea clean sheet would have been a massive boost ahead of a daunting trip to the Camp Nou next month.

However, Messi’s equaliser 15 minutes from time means Antonio Conte’s men face an uphill battle to qualify for the quarter-finals of Europe’s showpiece competition.

Here are three talking points from Stamford Bridge…

Conte’s tactical approach so nearly pays dividends

But for the fatal error that led to Messi’s leveller, Chelsea would be heading to Catalonia in three weeks’ time with a one-goal lead to protect.

That they came so close to victory is testament to Conte’s tactical nous, which stifled Barcelona while also allowing the home side to flourish.

As expected, the visitors dominated the ball throughout the encounter. However, they created precious few opportunities as Chelsea’s back line held firm.

Conte had resisted the temptation to start with an out-and-out striker, with Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud both named on the bench.

The fluid movement of Pedro, Eden Hazard and Willian caused more problems than Barcelona have been used to this season and the Blues’ second-half goal was a deserved one.

Heading into the second leg, Conte will need to devise another masterplan if Chelsea are to proceed to the last eight.

Third time lucky for impressive Willian

The tricky Brazilian has by no means been a regular for Chelsea this season.

But he was given the nod against Barcelona in a three-man attack that featured Hazard as a false number nine.

It’s a system Conte has favoured recently, but although it failed to get the best out of Hazard, the same could not be said about Willian.

He was Chelsea’s chief threat and, on another night, could have walked off with the match ball.

Willian twice hit the post in the first-half, showing great skill on each occasion to create space and leave Barca keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen with no chance.

Despite his misfortune, Willian was unbowed and he broke the deadlock with a pinpoint finish that raised the roof at Stamford Bridge.

It was a fitting reward for a top-class performance that highlighted his natural ability.

Surely he can’t be far away from cementing a regular spot in Conte’s starting XI?

Messi ends Chelsea goal drought to have decisive say

It is not often that British football fans get to see the little magician at such close quarters, so each time he arrives on these shores it is to be cherished.

Chelsea had a game-plan to nullify his influence and in the first half this worked superbly.

Although there were the usual sublime touches that we have come to expect, Messi was largely shackled by a solid rearguard display from Chelsea’s three-man central defence.

However, it only takes a side to switch off for a moment for the Argentinian to flex his muscles.

A misplaced pass from Andreas Christensen was intercepted by Andres Iniesta, whose pull back enabled Messi to slide the ball past Thibaut Courtois.

Once the ball had arrived to him in the box, there was no doubting where it would nestle.

Messi’s exuberant celebrations underlined the importance of his equaliser in the context of the tie.

It could be the decisive moment.

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