Typically, when a club publicly puts a price on a player, the chances are that by the end of the transfer window they’ll be out of the door. And that’s exactly what Fiorentina have done with their star winger Juan Cuadrado, who is available for €50 million (£39.5m).
Manchester United and Barcelona have been linked with the Colombian wide man after he lit up Serie A and the World Cup with his dazzling array of skills, and it seems the player could be up for grabs after Spanish paper Mundo Deportivo (h/t 101 Great Goals) published the following quotes from Fiorentina sporting director Daniele Prade:
We hope he remains with us. We have never had official offers for him. We talk frequently with him and his agent. On August 4th or 5th he will be back in Italy and then, we will talk.
It would be really difficult refusing a €50 millions euros offer. Let’s wait, and let’s see what will happen.
For United, who reportedly have a bottomless pit of funds to spend this summer, per Jamie Jackson of The Guardian, Fiorentina’s apparent willingness to cash in on Cuadrado will come as encouraging news.
Mundo Deportivo (h/t David Kent of the Mail Online) reported that the Red Devils were set to test La Viola’s resolve with a £30 million bid for the 27-year-old and, after Prade’s recent proclamation, it doesn’t seem that the reported valuation of the player in both camps is too far off.
Here’s the kind of encapsulating attributes Cuadrado could bring to Old Trafford, should the two clubs strike a deal:
While Cuadrado was thrust into the spotlight as a key figure in Colombia’s effervescent World Cup displays, it’s worth noting that any potential deal for the player wouldn’t solely be on the back of a stellar major tournament.
Indeed, the player was sensational in Serie A last season, inspiring the Florence club to a fourth-place finish—just short of a Champions League spot—notching 11 goals and five assists in the process, per WhoScored.com.
His performances also merited a spot in the WhoScored European team of the season:
Aside from his thrilling skills, blistering pace and composed head in dangerous areas—as if those qualities weren’t enough—it’s easy to see why Van Gaal may have cited Cuadrado as a potential target. That’s primarily because of the versatility he’s showcased during his time with Fiorentina.
We witnessed in earnest throughout the World Cup how Van Gaal demands a level of adaptability from his players, and Cuadrado is a positionally flexible player, capable of adjusting to myriad systems and styles. In fact, during his time at Fiorentina, the only outfield position he’s not operated in is centre-back.
If Van Gaal was to match La Viola’s asking price, you suspect Cuadrado’s dynamic, energetic forays down the right-hand side would make him an ideal candidate to operate at right wing-back in the Dutchman’s preferred 3-5-2 system. It’s a view shared by football writer and Manchester United supporter BeardedGenius:
I suppose stories linking United to Juan Cuadrado make more sense. He could play wing-back in a 3-5-2 or wide forward in a 4-3-3.— Nooruddean (@BeardedGenius) July 28, 2014
The Colombian would have no problem slotting in there, just as he would seamlessly fit into and subsequently improve a host of positions in this United team. Of course, United have players on their books that are stylistically comparable to Cuadrado—most notably the likes of Antonio Valencia, Nani and Wilfried Zaha—but none provide an edge as sharp or as effective as the Fiorentina man.
The World Cup merely sought to reaffirm the player's talent and indicate that he’s a man capable of performing under pressure on the biggest stage. He registered four assists in Brazil, as noted here by Squawka:
For United, Cuadrado would be an unquestionably fine addition. His dynamic qualities not only fit in with the classical Red Devils mantras of pace and power, but in addition, his ability to be tactically accommodating means he’d be a roaring success for Van Gaal’s Manchester United regardless of the position he operated in.
While a reported fee of €50 million may seem a little excessive for a player unproven in the Premier League, Cuadrado is Fiorentina’s star asset and a talent they’d find exceptionally difficult to replace. Nonetheless, with Barcelona also linked with a move for the player—per Mail Online's David Kent, Van Gaal would be wise to move quickly if he stands a chance of getting him on board.
Plus after United’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward recently boasted that the club is able to spend up to £70 million on a player, per Simon Stone of BBC Sport, talents of Cuadrado’s calibre should be within reach. And players of his quality are exactly what United require if they're set to reestablish themselves amongst the game’s elite.