Mark Cucurella’s move to Chelsea: What he will do for Tuchel’s defense

It seems ChelseaInterim sporting director Todd Boehle learned a hard lesson from a frantic summer transition. After seeing the deals for Raphinha and Jules Kounde who kidnapped her BarcelonaChelsea moved too quickly to get off track Mark CucurellaSupposed move from Brighton to me Manchester.

Chelsea have agreed personal terms with the Spaniard and met Brighton’s asking price in a deal that could eventually be worth more than 60 million pounds ($72 million) – spoiling City’s best and final bid altogether.

Why Premier League The heroes drew a strict money line in the sand on the player Which seems close to perfect for Pep Guardiola’s system and style It’s not obvious, but Bohli doesn’t care. So does Thomas Tuchel, who insisted on having a natural left-back in defense after being turned down Nathan Ak and Presnel Kimpembe.

Cucurella is less suitable for Chelsea: his natural position is left-back, which is not present in Tuchel’s current 3-4-2-1 system. In terms of age and skill, there is significant overlap with Ben Chilwellwho became one of the most important players at Stamford Bridge when an AFC Champions League injury ruined the 2021-22 season.

You can expect Cucurella to play plenty of minutes to the left of Tuchel’s three defence, providing an unexpected 5ft 8in (172.7cm) solution to the void created when Antonio Rudiger left for Real Madrid. Tuchel thinks he can be very effective there, having seen him in action when Brighton came to Stamford Bridge in December.

Cucurella lined up on the left Dan Burn And the Joel Feltman That evening, Brighton boss Graham Potter matched Chelsea’s starting line-up. The Spaniard’s covering speed was particularly important in enabling the visitors to press high on the field and ultimately enjoy a 52.3 per cent share of possession away from home.

Here, in the first minutes, Romelu Lukaku gets a chance to serve Mason Mount Being on goal with Cucurella in his wake…

But by the time Mount gets close to the edge of Brighton’s penalty area, Cucurella catches him and pesters him to turn back, where he is jostled by two other recovering defenders.

Cucurella’s speed allows him to adopt a more aggressive defensive style, the kind preferred by higher intensity coaches like Tuchel.

Here, climb up to pull a mountain like Jorginho shapes to pass the ball in his direction. Instead, he finds the Italian international Christian Pulisic Close to the seam as Mount launches a surprise throw into the space that Cucurella has just vacated…

But this clever coordinated misdirection isn’t enough to get rid of Cucurella, who is screwed onto Mount when the latter attempts to cross the byline.

Later in the match, Chelsea challenges Cucurella to cover more ground.

He charges deeply into the opponent’s half to press Callum Hudson-Odoionly for the wing to shoot the ball to the right:

Cucurella is arching his career towards advanced Pulisic, who does not give him any chance to influence the attack by playing a pass for the first time into the right channel of the Brighton half…

Pulisic’s pass is played into Lukaku’s move, but by the time he first touches him on the right, Cucurella is back into a position where he can deter or intercept any cross toward Hudson-Odoi.

Chelsea could not even exploit Cucurella’s most obvious weaknesses as a central defender. His height puts him at a disadvantage in many aerial duels, but his controlled aggression, good timing and jumping ability give him a chance to compete.

Naturally, we’d assume Lukaku would be the one to reach out with that skewed Hudson-Odoi shot toward Brighton’s back post, but Cucurella rose to a clear header.

In the final minutes, Cucurella made his most memorable contribution at the other end of the field, creating a perfect cross for him. Danny Welbeck For a tie header in injury time – a mirror image of the ball type Cesar Azpilicueta Frequently used to deliver Alvaro Morata from a similar deep position to the right of Antonio Conte’s three-man Chelsea defence.

Cucurella revealed after the Stamford Bridge draw that he only played the role for “one or two games in my life” before joining Brighton in August 2021, not from the start. Potter asked him to repeat it at an increasing pace as the 2021-22 season dragged on and by the end of the season a quarter of his total minutes in the Premier League had been played at the center of defence.

The sample size of 795 minutes is not huge, but it is large enough to provide a brief picture of what Cucurella can offer to the left of three backgrounds.

Here is a glimpse of his game using smartscotta tool that gives players a series of ratings from 0 to 99 indicating how often or how effective a player performs a particular stylistic action compared to others in their position.

As you can see, Cucurella’s aggressiveness and sharp instincts make him a devastating defensive presence, excelling at rebounding the ball that Tuchel highly appreciates. This particular aspect of his game is also evident when he is deployed as a left-back, while his overall defensive impact remains largely intact.

* Age start from 2021-22

Cucurella’s desire to catch the ball up the field was entirely a weapon in Potter’s pressing system.

Here, halfway through the first half of Brighton’s 4-0 win Manchester United In May, admitted Anthony Elanga On standby to intercept Welbeck’s loose layoff…

…and operates the jets to hit him on the ball, before stopping him and passing a pass to the unmarked Leandro Trossard.

Later in the first half, Elanga taps again, pushing forward to put pressure on him while the winger collects a losing ball…

…and keep him out of his way without contamination, thus generating a dangerous cross chance against United’s scrambling defence.

In possession, Cucurella is a La Masia graduate in every inch: calm and comfortable on the ball in tight spaces, he generally prefers short passes to keep his side in control and move them forward.

Here, in Brighton’s 3-0 win Wolves In April, he saw an opportunity to knock three opponents out of the game with one crucial pass to Trussard…

Here, he cleverly drew two wolf defenders before clicking Moses KaiseidoA pass around the corner to Trossard, who holds no control now is in a dangerous position.

As Brighton’s left centre-back, Cucurella defended seriously and brought in a dynamism to build up the play that has been lacking ever since. Ben White sold to Arsenal For 50 million pounds in the summer of 2021.

As a left-back, he pressured the passes, flanked the wing in front of him with speed and real intent, always looking to pick a teammate when delivering the ball from wide areas himself.

One of last season’s Premier League assists didn’t do the full justice to Cucurella’s offensive threat, which includes deep passes, high and wide submissions, and cuts – as the chart below shows.

Cucurella’s arrival could allow Chelsea to unload Marc AlonsoEmerson Palmieri and Malang Sar Without fear of letting themselves fall short on the left of the defense. He could give Chilwell time to get back to his best form without burdening too many minutes early in the season. It could also bring the team closer to Tuchel’s vision.

Premier League opponents will inevitably seek to exploit Cucurella’s lack of height if the left center back becomes his default position at Chelsea, but he could still add more than he takes. If not, Tuchel will have alternatives – not the least of which is the relatively straightforward counter to simply slide Kalidou Coulibaly To the left of the back three.

The £52.5m price tag is steep, and still the sharpest thought remains that Cucurella’s sale to Chelsea paved the way for Brighton to bring Cobham graduate Levi Colwell the other way. Losing the 19-year-old permanently this summer window would have had unwelcome echoes for Fikayo Tomori and Mark Joyehy For some fans, so the fact that it’s a loan with Brighton having no option to buy leaves open the possibility of a first-team future at Stamford Bridge – even if his clever profile depends on last season’s high-yield Championship loan at Stamford Bridge. Huddersfield Town It is suggested that the player Tuchel could have used it immediately.

* Age start from 2021-22

However, the Chelsea head coach has made it clear that he prioritizes the here and now and, in the current temporary football structure at Stamford Bridge, is the main decision maker. From a business perspective, the refusal to sell Colwill is an important statement from Boehly and Clearlake Capital; It also represented the easiest route to fundraising through sales in a window in which net transfer spending for new owners is rapidly heading north to £100m.

Is spending big on Cucurella the smartest use of potentially limited conversion resources? Maybe not. But in a period of transitions conditioned by urgency and unique turmoil, like Cucurella Raheem Sterling And Kalidou Koulibaly before him, is exactly the kind of high-quality footballer that Tuchel needs.