Fiorentina confirmed Barcelona target Juan Cuadrado would not leave the club on Friday after a summer-long transfer saga, and in the end, the Blaugrana made the right decision by not breaking the bank for the Colombian.
As reported by Football Italia, Fiorentina owner Andrea Della Valle told reporters the star winger was staying in Serie A, saying: "I can say with certainty Cuadrado is staying. It's a big present for the city. I hope it's the strongest Viola of the Della Valle era."
The statement brought to an end one of the longest transfer sagas of the summer, which started immediately after the 2014 World Cup. The Colombia international put together a strong performance in Brazil, and several top clubs were rumoured to be interested.
Barcelona and Manchester United were frequently quoted as likely destinations for Cuadrado, per Football Italia, and a transfer seemed inevitable until the Red Devils moved for former Real Madrid star Angel Di Maria.
At that point, the Catalans already appeared to be out of the race, unwilling to match United's wage offer, per the Daily Express' Ben Jefferson.
The Blaugrana could have pushed harder for his signature, particularly once Di Maria moved to Old Trafford. They could have matched the wage offer, or at least presented a competitive counter-proposal. But they didn't, and Louis Enrique made the smart decision.
Cuadrado was expected to be a candidate to start as a right-back in Barcelona's fluid system, moving back to the position he played when he moved to Italy. Fans saw him as a natural replacement for the aging Dani Alves, with the same blistering pace and dribbling skills.
He also has the same defensive flaws. In fact, the 26-year-old might even be a worse defender than the Brazilian was in the prime of his career. Yes, he has the versatility to play as a full-back, but his career didn't take off until he made the move further up the pitch.
The Guardian's Alejandro Pino explains:
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.
Cuadrado wouldn't have made for a bad right-back—but at his wage demands, the Catalans would have grossly overpaid for a player who isn't entirely comfortable filling the need they currently have. Or will have—as shared by OptaJose, the team's defence looks just fine:
As a classic winger, there are few better than Cuadrado. But the Blaugrana have no need for attacking reinforcements, and playing the Colombian in his preferred position would have stunted the growth of Munir El Haddadi.
Cuadrado would have been very expensive, and with the Blaugrana already under the UEFA microscope, adding another high-priced player could have only done wrong. With no need for a winger and Cuadrado's limitations as a full-back, the transfer had "bust" written all over it with such a massive price tag.
Enrique wants to add as much talent to his squad as he possibly can, before the transfer ban comes into effect. But on this occasion, he made the right decision by not pushing for a transfer.