Barcelona have reportedly withdrawn their offer for Fiorentina's Juan Cuadrado, and the Blaugrana made the right decision to drop out of the race to sign the coveted winger.
Reports from Spain (h/t Metro's Richard Buxton) claim Barcelona will instead focus on a number of other full-backs, including Sao Paulo's Douglas and Flamengo's Leo. Spanish newspaper AS (via Barcastuff) adds a host of other players to the list, the biggest target likely being Borussia Dortmund's Lukasz Piszczek:
Barcelona have ruled out signing Cuadrado. Focus now on Johnson (Gladbach). Walker (Tottenham) and Piszczek (Dormund) other candidates. [as]— barcastuff (@barcastuff) August 13, 2014
The two players mentioned in Buxton's report are hardly of the same caliber as World Cup hero Cuadrado, and Sky Sports' Paulo Freitas was hardly impressed by the club's rumoured interest:
Douglas is nowhere near Barcelona's level, this is probably the oddest transfer story involving Brazilians this window.— Paulo Freitas (@Cynegeticus) August 14, 2014
Cuadrado seemed like a lock to join the Blaugrana at one point during the transfer window, but the transfer saga dragged on for too long and opened the door for some of the biggest Premier League clubs to get involved.
The biggest obstacle to a Barcelona deal for Cuadrado appears to be the wages United are willing to offer, and it's why Spanish football insider Sergi Dominguez remained convinced the Colombian international would join United throughout the summer window:
Wide guess.. I reckon Cuadrado will join Man United. They have the advantage in fee, wages and guaranteed playing time.— Sergi Domínguez (@FutbolSergi) August 7, 2014
There's no denying Cuadrado would have been a massive capture for Barcelona. The winger has been consistently excellent for Fiorentina and impressed during the 2014 World Cup. Also, while Dani Alves is still one of the best attacking full-backs in the world, the Blaugrana will soon have a real need on the right wing.
Alves' biggest criticism has always been his tendency to overrun plays and get caught out of position on the defensive end. In Cuadrado, the Blaugrana would find a similar player with the same strengths and flaws.
The Guardian's Alejandro Pino wrote an in-depth profile on Cuadrado, pointing out that he blossomed into the star he is today the moment he made the move from a defensive role to an attacking role:
[...] And it’s here where it all began. His time spent at Lecce was vital for Cuadrado; not only did it give him valuable experience, but he was also handed the opportunity to tweak his position into a more attacking role. Cuadrado had arrived in Italy as a right-back but in Florence he was ratified as an out-and-out winger. What a huge waste having him bursting out from the back when he posed a much greater threat as a right midfielder or even further forward. In his new position Cuadrado blossomed and his attacking form was decisive in leading Fiorentina to successive fourth-place finishes in Serie A.
The Colombian is one of the world's best classic wingers, blessed with pace, trickery and excellent crossing ability. All these traits are important for a full-back or a wing-back, but he simply doesn't have the defensive mindset to shine at those positions.
Cuadrado needs to play freely, unburdened by his defensive assignments. With the Red Devils' need for a pure winger, he fits exactly what Louis van Gaal is after.
As shared by Sky Sports (via Transfer Sources), Barcelona have been very busy during the 2014 summer transfer window:
Barcelona have spent £129.3m million in this transfer window... And they were suspended from making transfers. pic.twitter.com/gUKjgCd6mu— Transfer Sources (@TransferSources) August 10, 2014
The suspension of the club's transfer ban and the subsequent spending has left a bitter taste in the mouths of other fans. Social media is ripe with people calling out for action, and it is worth remembering that the club's appeal still looks like it will be unsuccessful, with a ban to follow, as reported by the BBC Sport.
Adding another big-money acquisition will only give those criticising the club more ammunition once the legal case goes to court, and with no real need for the player, the smart move here is to avoid more controversy.
Losing out on a player as gifted as Cuadrado hurts, but given the circumstances and the fact he would lose some of his effectiveness when played out of position, the Blaugrana are doing the smart thing by letting the Premier League clubs battle it out for him.