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So it’s goodbye to Juan Cuadrado, the one who promised so much for Chelsea but produced so little and whose time was so short. Signed in January to Jose Mourinho’s excitement over his versatility and pace, which the player owed to suspected witchcraft, the winger has already been cast aside at Stamford Bridge, sent to Juventus on loan for a season.
Cuadrado was a £23.3 million deadline day signing from Fiorentina and he signed a four-and-a-half year deal but the Colombian has lasted not even seven months of that as the ruthlessness of Mourinho appears to have claimed another victim of his second spell in south west London.
Attacking talent cut loose
Into the bracket of attacking talent cut loose by Mourinho during his second reign, including Kevin De Bruyne, Juan Mata, Andre Schurrle, Romelu Lukaku and Mohamed Salah, goes Cuadrado, who unlike those did adapt to the demands of the Portuguese manager to put in the defensive work but failed to have any impact in an attacking sense.
Cuadrado made his debut in the 1-2 win at Aston Villa on February 7th and after offering a great deal of promise by showing his electric pace in a short cameo, the Colombian made just seven further substitute appearances and 4 starts, finishing the campaign with 0 goals and 0 assists for his new club. He leaves having played just 337 minutes for Chelsea and failing to complete a single game.
It is unfortunate to witness the 27 year old endure such sluggish form having been an integral part of the Colombian side that was scintillating on its way to the quarter-finals of last year’s World Cup, creating four goals and scoring in the 4-1 demolition of Japan.
He got 11 goals and 5 assists for Fiorentina in the year leading up to the tournament and, at the time of his move, was the best dribbler in Serie A over the four years he spent in the league.
Four goals and four assists came during the first half of the following season with La Viola and Cuadrado arrived at Chelsea in the hope that his pace and defensive awareness would offer balance on the right-side to Eden Hazard on the left, but it simply wasn’t to be.
There were doubts that the Colombian didn’t offer enough in the final third to convince Mourinho and that weakness would be exposed further against the robust defences of the Premier League. So it is proved, with Mourinho even voicing his concern that his conversion from Italian football to English would be a hindrance.
“I know Italy and I know the difference between Italy and England. His formation, his development, his experience – everything was in Italy” said the Portuguese manager. “Stability, time, integration – I think we will see the best Cuadrado next year.”
However, he would start the new campaign on the periphery of Mourinho’s plans and perhaps the most telling sign came as the technically limited Ramires was preferred on the right-side of an attacking-midfield three against Manchester City.
Replaced by Pedro
It wasn’t until the 64th minute when Cuadrado replaced the labouring Brazilian and again he would struggle to have an impact. A couple of days later and the Colombian was being ushered out as Spanish winger Pedro arrived from Barcelona for £21 million.
With his debut goal at West Brom, Pedro did in 20 minutes what Cuadrado failed to do in his whole time at Chelsea and provided instant validation of Mourinho’s decision.
Move to Juventus
After the shock 1-0 defeat to Udinese on the opening day of the new Serie A campaign, there will be a hope that Cuadrado will add much-needed spark to Juventus’ attack-line that has seen the energy of Carlos Tevez depart this summer.
With Arturo Vidal and Andrea Pirlo also leaving there is a distinct new-look to the Italian champions and with the Colombian following Alex Sandro, Paulo Dybala, Mario Mandzukic, Sami Khedira and Simone Zaza through the arrivals door in Turin, Cuadrado’s experience of what it takes to thrive in the Italian league should help them all to gel. That is if he can reproduce the form he showed at Fiorentina of course.
“The league has only started and we hope we can defend the title,” said Cuadrado talking about his move to the Old Lady. “I want to prepare well for every game and then the coach will decide. I just have to work hard and play my game.”
If he manages to do that then one of Europe’s more vibrant wingers will have rediscovered himself and it may yet persuade Chelsea to give the Colombian another chance. To do that however, it will take a lot more than a reliance on the witch that apparently haunts the Colombian’s dreams.
Written by Adam Gray
Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamGray1250
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