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Do FC Barcelona Really Need Juan Cuadrado?

With silly season driving itself and several rumours into meltdown, one rumour has persisted... But do FC Barcelona really need Juan Cuadrado?

Manuel Queimadelos Alonso

The future of the flying Colombian right-winger Juan Guillermo Cuadrado is very close to being decided. Barcelona, Chelsea and Manchester United are thought to be making their final moves with a view to making Cuadrado their latest signing. Cuadrado has asked his current club, Fiorentina, to be sold and his wish looks set to be granted.

In keeping with a recent tradition of Fiorentina selling some of their best and most promising players, including Adem Ljajic, Stevan Jovetic and Matija Nastasić, it did not surprise many when Fiorentina’s president, Andrea Della Valle, said he is willing to let Cuadrado leave. But it predictably comes at a price. Yes, at a high price. A €40-€50 million price.

According to various Spanish reports, Colombia's Juan Guillermo Cuadrado’s reinforcement is the only player missing for Luis Enrique to have the starting eleven he desires. Alternative right-backs have recently been mentioned in both Sport and El Mundo Deportivo, including Lukasz Piszczek, Juanfran and even Kyle Walker, but in all likelihood, it might be Juan Cuadrado or nothing. Indeed, all in or nothing, or as the Nike slogan goes: ‘Risk everything’. As mentioned by Joan Josep Pallas and Joan Poquí of El Mundo Deportivo: "The Colombian Cuadrado is the only icing Barcelona lack on the revolutionary cake that is being prepared by the coaching staff." Yet it seems Douglas of Sao Paulo is now the front-runner.

Meanwhile, Sam Wallace of The Independent has pointed out that Manchester United are not in the bidding for the Colombian winger Juan Cuadrado. Louis van Gaal has seemingly looked at him but decided that the player is not a target and Manchester United’s interests in the player have apparently therefore evaporated. However, despite this, many still regard Manchester United as the favourites to sign the player. Some are even reporting that the sale of Cuadrado is a done deal between Fiorentina and Manchester United.

There is no doubt that his at an absolute minimum, €40 million, transfer fee is inflated, but this is to be expected with him having had a great season with Fiorentina, a brilliant World Cup and with two or three of the biggest clubs in the world vying for his signature. But do Barcelona really need him?

The arguments for the proposition are clear. Cuadrado has pace to burn and is also a great athlete, showing terrific stamina levels, an ability to play on the run and with the ball. His quick dribbling would endear himself to the Camp Nou crowd. He possesses the rare ability to be more than adept at playing in a number of positions. An average player does not score 11 goals and make five assists in Serie A from his position.

Further to this, he is perfect in a right wing-back position in both a 3-4-3 or 3-5-2 formation. He should be approaching the peak years of his football career. Other things are in his favour too. Martin Montoya does not appear to be ready for being a starter. Dani Alves is not as good as he was, to put it mildly. He has become poor in attack as well as a liability in defence. His contract also expires next year and it will not be renewed. Herein lies the big issue, as it stands, Barcelona will be unable to make a signing in the next two transfer windows due to the FIFA ban. It is still possible to make signings now. The question is, should Barcelona take the risk by making the signing or should they take the risk by not making the signing?

The arguments against the proposition are equally clear. Cuadrado is not a right-back by trade. In fact, according to, he has only played as a right-back once. His attacking qualities are well-known, he makes the attack tick at his whim and he is a wrecking ball of destruction for defenders. Yet these are qualities Barcelona already possess. It is the defensive steel which Barcelona (with few exceptions), and Cuadrado, unfortunately lack. Yet you will remember a common comment at Barcelona is one that goes: "Attack is the best form of defense." It is a matter of how far to stretch this notion.

Barcelona and Luis Enrique have traditionally preferred the 4-3-3 formation, so it remains to be seen whether Luis Enrique will change his number one formation to accommodate Cuadrado. "Luis Enrique is Barca through and through and he likes 4-3-3," a source close to the Catalan club told Goal. "But he also appreciates a number of other systems and he won't be afraid to mix it up. The 3-2-3-2 idea is similar to 3-5-2 and it's one of the alternatives he has in mind - but it's more about how the players work than the system itself." It is likely he will initially start with 4-3-3 and then change from there if needed.

Further to this, Cuadrado seems to be too expensive for Barcelona, which is somewhat bizarre but also a bit predictable considering Barcelona have a habit of prioritizing attacking players. The irony is that Cuadrado is an attacking player. In fairness, €40 million for Cuadrado can be seen to be a reasonable price in today’s inflated market. Indeed, unproven players like Luke Shaw and Adam Lallana are moving for an excessive £31 million and £25 million respectively.

Another issue is that Barcelona already have two right-backs. What’s more, with only a year remaining on Alves’ contract, with his high wages and with no offers coming in for him, it is looking likelier that he will stay than leave, for the time being. This suggests that there is little need for Cuadrado at Barcelona in this coming season. Make no mistake about it, in one way or another, Dani Alves has disrupted Luis Enrique’s plans. It has to be said that there are contradictory reports. On the one hand, some sources argue that the signing of Cuadrado is not linked to the sale of Alves due to the FIFA transfer ban looming over Barcelona like gloomy autumn clouds. On the other hand, some sources argue that it is linked as a result of their high wages. Only time will tell as to who is right.

Importantly, Cuadrado’s intentions are clear. His main aim is to move, but he really wants to move to Barcelona.  He wants to play for a club which aspires to win all the competitions it competes in. Manchester United will not play any European cup competition this year, of course. This is the only reason why Cuadrado’s dream of playing for Barcelona remains alive. If it was not for the will of the player, the chances of him signing for Barcelona would have died weeks ago. The problem, from a Barcelona perspective, is that Barcelona have not yet shown a post-World Cup firm interest, whereas Manchester United have more than done so. Manchester United have reportedly made a €40 million offer, but there is a missing puzzle.

Ivan San Antonio of Sport writes: "But the missing puzzle is the most important of all: the player himself, who to date, has not signed."

In addition, according to Sport, Fiorentina will not accept Manchester United’s alleged offer until Barcelona have either made an offer or withdrawn their interest. Here, again there are contradictions. But it seems to be agreed that Fiorentina’s president has set a deadline of the 20th August for any interested club to complete a deal for Cuadrado.

Does this writer want Cuadrado at Barcelona next year? Is he really needed? It is a difficult decision but even coming from one of the biggest critics of Dani Alves nowadays, the answer has to be no. Taking everything into account and as brilliant a player as he is, he is simply not a defender.  Of course, if Cuadrado does arrive, he will most certainly have the fans backing. With Deulofeu officially going to Sevilla on a season-long loan, it definitely makes the signing of Cuadrado a greater possibility. Without sitting on the fence, this writer is of the opinion that a right-back who is more than competent at defending is required. Lukasz Piszczek and Mattia De Sciglio are two excellent as well as realistic possible targets. Douglas is even more realistic, but a bit of an unknown quantity. In any case, Douglas looks very promising and he is worth the punt, especially considering the price is only at €7 million. With a FIFA ban looming, the right-back position for the 2015-2016 season is not sufficiently covered, especially if Martin Montoya does not make the expected step up. Indeed, the position is arguably not even covered for the 2014-2015 season, as things stand.

It is arguably a risk either way but Barcelona need to be able to stand by their decision. If Barcelona fail to buy a right-back or even a converted right-back and the FIFA ban is not overturned, they will only have themselves to blame next summer.

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