Chelsea in advanced talks to sign Brighton’s Marc Cucurella

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Chelsea are reportedly in advanced talks to sign Brighton & Hove Albion left-back Marc Cucurella and are willing to pay the £50m priced tag demanded by the Seagulls. The former Barcelona academy star handed in a transfer request on Friday in a bid to force through a move to Premier League champions Manchester City, with Pep Guardiola making him his top summer target. However, Man City are reportedly not willing to pay the £50m figure as they seek a replacement for Oleksandr Zinchenko.

The Blues are on the hunt for some defensive additions this summer, and now appear to have stolen a march on their rivals for the signature of the Spaniard.

Cucurella enjoyed a hugely successful first Premier League season after joining from Getafe in a deal worth around £15m last summer and was named Brighton’s player of the season. Brighton do not want to allow their prized asset to leave and it would indeed take a huge offer for them to sell as he still holds four years remaining on his contract at the Amex Stadium. However, the left-back has now pushed for a move by handing in a transfer request.

With doubts surrounding the future of Marcos Alonso, and with the return to fitness of Ben Chilwell after a long injury lay-off, manager Thomas Tuchel is in desperate need of reinforcements as the opening weekend of the new Premier League campaign draws closer.

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Chelsea have made two signings this summer with the arrivals of both Raheem Sterling for £47.5m from City and defender Kalidou Koulibaly from Napoli in a £33m deal.

What would Marc Cucurella bring to Stamford Bridge? 

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Considering how impressive Cucurella was in his debut campaign in the English top flight, it is easy to see why two of the biggest clubs in the country are both scouting for his signature this summer. Without a shadow of a doubt, the Spaniard has swiftly become one of the league’s best and most accomplished full-backs, and it could really be a big blow for Manchester City to lose out on such a talent, and a huge boost for Tuchel to acquire his services.

Specifically, the 24-year-old racked up more blocks (72), interceptions (72) and successful tackles (62) than any other Brighton player. Bearing in mind his ability to also play at left centre-back in Tuchel’s 3-4-3 system makes the former Getafe defender an attractive proposition for the German.

From an attacking point of view, Cucurella delivered more crosses (94) than any of his current teammates as well as the third-highest number of dribbles attempted (59) and shot-creating actions made (78) in Graham Potter’s squad.

Chelsea won’t just be acquiring Marc Cucurella for his influence both in attack and defence, but his game runs much deeper. The Spaniard is an accomplished footballer, possessing a tremendous work ethic that sets him apart from the rest as well as a willingness to carry out duties that may seem unfamiliar to him, and that is something Tuchel may well be expecting of him considering the Blues complete this signing.

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With Chelsea in need of additions in defence, capturing Cucurella from under Manchester City’s noses is a real statement of intent, but also represents the kind of players Tuchel needs: progressive, well-rounded and highly technical players to complement his compact but fluid and competent system.

Marc Cucurella fits into all those categories both on the ball and off it.

He’s a very stout and capable defender as shown through his defensive numbers above, but also he ranks in the top 20% at least amongst full-backs within Europe’s top-five leagues for his progressive and influence in the build-up, according to FBRef.

Having spent the early part of his career in Barcelona’s youth ranks, it is worth noting that the player is perfectly capable of becoming a consummate outlet in possession and build-up from deep, performing passes which break opposition lines, building out from the back when pressured but more importantly possessing the capabilities of influencing attacking moves.

Brighton involves Marc Cucurella in the play a lot, which shows how confident they are about him in possession as an attacking outlet. Only 14 per cent of full-backs in the division have a higher progressive carrying distance — the number of yards a player moved the ball while controlling it with their feet towards the opposition goal — per 90 than his 143.7.

The Spaniard also ranks in the 88th percentile of full-backs in Europe’s top five leagues for passes into the final third (3.85), 78th percentile for key passes (1.27), 84th percentile for passes into the penalty area (1.50) and more impressively in the 99th percentile for passes under pressure (9.51). All of these stunning readings represent the kind of progressive qualities Cucurella holds, and its why he’s so highly regarded by Pep Guardiola.

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Another of Cucurella’s assets is his energy, enthusiasm and durability.

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He played 39 games for Getafe last season, starting all but one La Liga match — a workload extended through the summer by nine appearances in a Spain shirt.

Eight days after starting Getafe’s season-finale against Granada, he saw 45 minutes of action in an Under-21 European Championship quarter-final win over Croatia, then the full 90 as Portugal beat Spain in the semis. Next, he played a half for the senior side in a pre-European Championship friendly against Lithuania after COVID-19 issues disrupted Luis Enrique’s squad.

A month later, he linked up with the Olympic squad, playing in a warm-up friendly with Japan and then five of their six matches at the Games themselves as Spain won silver medals.

Six days after that final loss to Brazil in Tokyo, he came off the bench for Getafe to play the last 22 minutes of their season-opener against Valencia.

And since his Brighton debut against Brentford, Marc Cucurella has missed only three Premier League games, featuring in 35 appearances – 3,092 minutes from a total of 38 English top flight games, he is ever-so reliable when you need it.

It is evidently clear to see that Chelsea will be signing a player who could considerably catapult their game under Tuchel to new heights this coming season.

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