#11 Juan Cuadrado AM by David Dickson @DKDickson

Photo: Ian Walton/Getty Images

When such a positive aura surrounds the rest of Chelsea’s attacking flair players, you could forgive Juan Cuadrado for feeling a little downbeat coming into the new season. Saddled with a £23.3 million (!) price tag, the shirt number of one of Chelsea’s most recently-departed heroes (11) and an almost certain future of bench-dwelling/being hoofed straight back on the next plane to Serie A, there really is not much to smile about for the Colombian winger.

However, as supporters, he hasn’t given us much to smile about either. After a World Cup in which he tied Toni Kroos for the most assists in the tournament, coupled with a useful pair of seasons for a challenging Fiorentina side, it would be reasonable to be relatively excited at the potential of our new winger after his signing in January last year. At a time where Oscar began to flag and Willian continued to divide opinions as to whether his production could match his work-rate, a new (expensive) face out wide might have been just what Chelsea needed to concrete their title challenge.

Instead what followed was, even in the kindest words, a shambles. Wearing boots seemingly sponsored by Toblerone, he proceeded to bumble and stumble his way through a mere twelve league games for Chelsea (eight of them as a substitute), showing little care for the mere simplicities of the game such as keeping the ball or passing to others dressed in blue. Gone were the swashbuckling attempts at taking on defenders and incisive examples of distribution shown both in Serie A and internationally, replaced by a man off the pace and without any indication of cognitive stability, at least where football is concerned.

So where now? One route is an Easyjet to Milan or Naples to return to a league where Cuadrado has proven his class before. The other, to stay with the club and attempt to gel with those around him. The arrival of his international (and similarly confidence-devoid) team-mate Falcao may boost his development in training (since the immediate chances of both being on the pitch at the same time seem slim) and a full pre-season with the team may also help to awake the Colombian.

Chelsea, as much as anyone, are fully aware of the dangers of expensive signings in the January window. Patience may need to be a virtue with a player who, by definition, relies on an awareness and connection with his team-mates. Optimistically, his steaming pace is a huge plus in this rollercoaster league of ours, plus he has shown signs of being relatively adept defensively in his past lives, which may provide cover for our regularly marauding full-backs. Pessimistically, this may all be moot by the time you read this, leaving Cuadrado back in Italy and enjoying the sunny life of Calcio.


We Ain't Got No History's 2015/16 season preview was edited by Joe Tweeds and designed by Graham MacAree. If you've enjoyed the work of the authors who generously donated their time to this project, please share with your friends and consider supporting The Chelsea Foundation as a way of saying thank you.