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Chelsea’s signing of Juan Cuadrado a little over 12 months ago for a hefty fee of £23 million on the face of it already looks like one of their worst pieces of business in recent times.
The Colombian struggled to make any impact at Stamford Bridge and has spent this year back in Serie A on loan at Juventus. However with the departure of Jose Mourinho and possible arrival of Italy boss Antonio Conte this summer, the winger could yet get a chance to revive his career in West London.
Cuadrado arrived with the January transfer window about to shut last season but with Chelsea going well in the league and strolling towards the title it was always going to be tough for him to break into a side that was playing well.
Blues fans and players alike would have no doubt been impressed by Cuadrado’s showings for Colombia in the 2014 World Cup and that had really boosted his profile and got top clubs taking a closer look at the Fiorentina man.
There were question-marks about his suitability to the English game and it was likely he would need some time to adapt however Mourinho would have hoped he could provide some kind of spark, even if it was coming off the bench, that might help Chelsea over the remaining months of the season.
Little to no impression
However in the limited chances he did get to play, Cuadrado made little to no impression and looked a shadow of the player that had shone for Fiorentina and Colombia. His style was perhaps not best suited to the workman-like approach preferred by the Portuguese, which to some extent made him an odd signing in the first place.
That said it still feels distinctly like Mourinho was too quick to disregard the winger and send him straight back to Serie A at the end of the season. Cuadrado got just 336 minutes of game time in a Chelsea shirt, which clearly is not enough time to settle into a new team and new league.
He made just four starts for the club but was substituted in all of them, which wouldn’t exactly have done wonders for his confidence and with Chelsea cruising to the league title, they were in a position to at least give the player a run of full games at the end of the season to give him a little more opportunity to shine.
Proving his worth in Turin
Although by no means a regular starter at Juventus, Cuadrado has once again showed his quality this season and has started 19 games in a side that is a considerably stronger all-round unit right now than his parent club.
If Conte does get the job that could be good news for Cuadrado in terms of his Chelsea future. Although his performances were poor first time around, he was also treated fairly poorly by the Blues and he is surely deserving of a second chance to impress.
With three years still to run on his deal, it makes no sense to simply loan him out to Serie A again so it could be a defining summer in the Colombian’s career.
A permanent transfer to Juventus may appeal if he can establish himself as a regular in the first team in Turin over the remaining months of the season and Chelsea would most likely recover a substantial portion of that initial investment.
Worthy of another chance?
If Juventus aren’t interested then Cuadrado will at least have pre-season to impress in front of a new Chelsea manager, who most likely will be more appreciative of his game than Mourinho, who likes his wingers to track back and work hard defensively something that isn’t Cuadrado’s strength.
That might give him a chance to forge his way into the Chelsea team for the new Premier League season and he would certainly offer the Blues a bit more flare and creativity, which they have lacked at times this campaign.
Written by Mark Sochon
Follow Mark on Twitter @tikitakagol
Check out his brilliant blog on all things La Liga, Tiki-Taka-Gol!
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