Is Juan Cuadrado the modern example of a Utility player?

When we talk about a utility or versatile player, the one name which immediately clicks into our mind is James Milner. Similar to him we have David AlabaJoshua KimmichAshley Young, who have played in multiple positions for their club and country. However, one name that frequently misses out on this list of players is Juve’sJuan Cuadrado.

 Juan Cuadrado is known for his offensive style of play on the right flank. His direct and attacking mindset helps his team to build attacks from the right side of the pitch. He can be deployed as a wide midfielder on either flank or as a right-winger, due to his ability to make attacking runs down the wing. During the start of his career, Cuadrado was given the midfielder role, albeit his preferred position as a forward. His confidence and ability on the ball were visible from the start as he occasionally played as a full-back or wing-back. The European scouts immediately picked up his talent, and he was introduced to Italian football at the end of 2009.

After some initial years of struggle, he boasted some impressive stats as he bagged 5 goals and 6 assists for Fiorentina in 2012 and became an integral part of the side as they finished fourth in Seria A. Big clubs started paying attention to his performances as the Colombian was rising to his full potential

Chelsea paid big bucks as Cuadrado was signed on a swap deal with Mohamed Salah on 2nd February 2015. Signed as a backup option means fewer minutes for any individual, however, he managed to earn his first silverware in his club career as Chelsea won the League Cup and the Premier League. On 25th August 2015, he signed a seasonlong loan deal with Juventus.

Under Massimiliano Allegri, he was a menace down the right-wing, his speed and ball control was once again caught our attention when he scored his first Champions League goal courtesy of a brilliant counter-attacking display. Following his impressive performances, the club signed him on a 3-year loan deal which later was triggered into a buy option. He played his first-ever Champions League final against Real Madrid after coming on as a substitute but was controversially sent off that night. 

His style of play played a huge role in Colombia’s World Cup run in 2014 as he managed to register 1 goal and 4 assists to his name, tying with Toni Kroos as the competition’s top assister. Cuadrado is also adept as an attacking right-back, due to his work rate and energy throughout the game. His style of play consists of taking on defenders poised on the flank and providing crosses into the box. He has been playing this position under many managers such as Massimiliano AllegriMaurizio Sarri, and Andrea Pirlo at Juventus. As a versatile player, he is also capable of playing as a winger on either side, which allows him to cut inside and shoot or to create a goal-scoring opportunity.

Despite his technical abilities, Cuadrado’s decision making and reading of the game are frequently questioned by the media. He has also drawn criticism for having an individualistic style of play. Therefore, even with the ability to beat opponents in one-on-one situations with his speed, flair, and set of skills, he lacks the footballing intelligence to be one of the best in his position.

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