Chelsea are looking at signing Brighton and Hove Albion defender Marc Cucurella this summer.
The Lowdown: Unfazed by the Premier League
Many players have struggled when making the move from abroad to the Premier League, but the 23-year-old has adjusted comfortably following his £15.4m move last summer.
The one-time Spain international has been voted by both his teammates and supporters as the Seagulls’ Player of the Year, and has an average WhoScored league rating of 6.92, which is the second-highest at the club this campaign.
This contribution in his debut season has been appreciated by his manager Graham Potter, who has lauded the attacking left-back’s “infectious personality”:
“He’s been really important for us since he’s come here. A really infectious personality so the lads all love him. Great character and bubbly personality around the club and then on the pitch he brings energy and quality.”
The Latest: Marcos Alonso Replacement?
According to the Daily Mail, the Blues are also fans of the La Masia graduate. Their interest comes as Marcos Alonso is plotting to switch west London for Barcelona.
However, Thomas Tuchel’s side, who are also interested in Sevilla’s Jules Kounde, will face competition from the Citizens for the 2020 Olympic silver medalist’s signature.
The Verdict: Left-Footed Azpilicueta?
If Chelsea want to replace the 31-year-old with Cucurella, then they may have to sacrifice some attacking threat. According to FBRef, the former Getafe man has fewer goals and assists per 90 minutes (0.06 vs 0.33).
However, what is lost in attack is more than made up for in defence and build-up, with the Catalonia-born fullback has a better pass completion (81.5% vs 77.7%), more progressive passes per 90 minutes (5.06 vs 4.44), more pressures (15.5 vs 12.4) and more tackles and interceptions (4.71 vs 4.61), as per FBRef.
This suggests that if the 5 foot 8 dynamo came to Stamford Bridge this summer, perhaps Tuchel would use him more defensively, in the way he uses Cesar Azpilicueta on the opposite flank.
According to FBRef, Cucurella is the second-most statistically similar player to the former Marseille player in the league. The Seagulls talent also shares the 38-time Spain international’s versatility, with both players having appeared in centre-back, fullback, and wingback this campaign.
With the Chelsea captain’s contract expiring next summer, Marc Cucurella can replicate on the left side what Azpilicueta has been doing all these years on the right.