Following the shock ACL injury to Ben Chilwell in an otherwise euphoric Champions League victory at home to Juventus, Chelsea were left to play the remaining half of the season starting Marcos Alonso and recalled Kenedy from his less than successful loan in Brazil. What was a promising season fizzled out into two domestic final losses, a disappointing Champions League exit and an unfulfilled promise of a title charge.
Chelsea were left to rue their weak squad depth with Chilwell’s horror injury the most notable example highlighting gap in quality between the bench and the starting 11. Somewhere in the Chelsea board, you can imagine someone making a vow that a situation as such would never happen again.
Brand new Chelsea co-owner, Todd Boehly, spear headed his newly acquired board into a summer of spending and statement. However, despite two excellent signings in Sterling and Koulibaly, Boehly and co have looked disorganised and toothless when it comes to business this summer with an astounding inability to wrap up deals and a conveyor belt of odd targets in every position of the pitch. Due to this, there were no surprise when Chelsea jumped on the Cucurella sag with Manchester City undecided on whether they should pay the £40million asking price for the player.
Chelsea were willing to pay up but seemingly in excess. Eyebrows raised as Chelsea reportedly agreed to pay an eye watering £62 million for the left back, making him the most expensive full back of all time. Many questions were raised after the signing was officially announced but are these concerns legitimate and what can Marc Cucurella actually bring to Chelsea?
Marc Cucurella is a quick and talented left wingback/full back. Just last season, at the age of 24 he was named Brighton Player of the Year after an inspired debut campaign. The Spaniard has an abundance of energy and attacking intent when his team is on the ball but he also acquires an elite understanding of positioning when defending.
For Chelsea fans who had not watched a lot of Cucurella, his 25-minute debut cameo gave a small indication for what’s to come as his introduction say the player show an intent for positive play as he punched balls at his new teammates while displaying a great deal of strength for a smaller player. If this wasn’t enough, then Blues fans surely remember Cucurella’s dazzling display at Stamford Bridge in which he capped his performance off with a late assist to pull the game level.
Cucurella brings quality, which is why both Chelsea and Manchester City were so interested in the player but there is a certain concern whether Chelsea needed him in the first place. Ben Chilwell got his first minutes since his devastating injury in November against already relegated Watford and has recovered well enough to have warranted a start on Chelsea’s opening game of the season against Everton where he won the match winning penalty.
With Chilwell back in the picture many question whether it is rational for Chelsea to invest in such a top calibre player to compete for the left back spot especially as the Blues have now spent over £110 million on their two left wing backs. That being said, Cucurella is versatile and may get game time in the left centre back role especially seeing that Chelsea have not yet addressed that position with incoming players.
One important note of the transfer is the involvement of Cobham graduate, Levi Colwill. Colwill had a successful season on loan at Huddersfield Town nearly steering the club back into the Premier League before unfortunately falling short in the play-offs final.
It is no surprise, especially with their immense eye for young talent, that Brighton were interested in the player and adamant that they receive him on a permanent deal. Chelsea never obliged and instead fought for Colwill to go to the south coast on loan. The twelve million extra Chelsea paid for Cucurella is imagined to be for Brighton’s inconvenience in the Colwill deal.
Overall, rarely would a club shy away from signing a player like Cucurella when they want to compete with the best. The deal allows Marcos Alonso to leave for Barcelona thus elevating the quality of the squad and Boehly expresses his ambition whilst keeping Colwill which will prove pivotal come the time when he’s ready to step up.
Chelsea will hope this signing will breed healthy competition with Ben Chilwell as he makes his way back to full fitness, if not Chelsea risk having disgruntled personalities within the squad, that being said, these are the risks a club must take to be the very best and for that, the aspiration must be admired.