Cucurella is a versatile player who can play in various roles on the left-hand side; including full-back, wing-back, centre-back or midfield.
Chelsea have completed the £62 million signing of Spanish left-back Marc Cucurella from Brighton & Hove Albion on a 6-year contract.
The 24-year-old finally joined the Blues after a prolonged transfer saga that initially saw him linked to Manchester City, and at a point Brighton dramatically issued a statement denying that any deal for Cucurella has been agreed with another club.
What has been the subject of debate though, is the huge fee involved and in this article; FootballOrbit looks at why Chelsea paid £62m for Cucurella.
Who is Marc Cucurella?
Marc Cucurella was born on the 22nd of July 1998 in Alella, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.
He initially started playing futsal with FS Alella before changing his career to football, joining RCD Espanyol’s youth team in 2006.
In 2012, he moved to Barcelona’s famous La Masia Academy. In 2016, he made his debut with the club’s reserve team known as Barcelona B — starting in a 4–0 Segunda División B match versus CE L’Hospitalet.
Cucurella made 17 appearances for the reserve side, helping them achieve promotion to the Segunda División in the play-offs.
On the 7th of July 2017, he renewed his Barca contract until 2021 — with a €12 million clause.
Marc Cucurella made his professional debut for Barca’s first team in October 2017 — in a 3-0 Copa del Rey away win against Real Murcia.
In August 2018, Cucurella was loaned to fellow La Liga side SD Eibar for one year with a €2 million buyout clause.
He made his La Liga debut on the 25th of September in a 1–0 loss at Espanyol and scored his first La Liga goal on the final day of the season in a 2–2 draw versus his parent club, Barcelona.
At the end of his loan, Eibar activated Cucurella’s buyout clause by signing him on a permanent deal, in which Barcelona included a €4 million buyback option.
On the 16th of July 2019, after just sixteen days as a permanent Eibar player, Barca triggered the buy-back option.
Barcelona then loaned Cucurella to Getafe with an option to buy for €6 million and 40% of the rights remaining to Barça.
Cucurella impressed brilliantly during his time with Getafe which made them trigger the option to buy him. Getafe paid €6m to Barcelona in June 2020.
Brighton & Hove Albion
In August 2021, Cucurella joined Premier League club Brighton & Hove Albion in a £16m deal — signing a 5-year contract.
He made his debut for the Seagulls in a 1-0 win over Brentford in September 2021.
On the 7th of May 2022, the left-back scored his first goal for the club in a 4–0 victory over Manchester United and broke down in tears.
He had a fantastic 2021/22 season at Brighton which saw him voted by teammates as the Players’ Player of the Season and by fans as the Player of the Season.
On the 5th of August 2022, Marc Cucurella joined Chelsea on a 6-year contract.
The fee was reported to be worth an initial £55 million (€65m/$67m), plus £7 million in add-ons — totalling £62 million.
Cucurella became Chelsea’s 5th major signing of the summer after Raheem Sterling, Kalidou Koulibaly, Gabriel Slonina and Carney Chukwuemeka.
The transfer of Cucurella is Brighton’s record sale, surpassing the £50m Arsenal paid for centre-back Ben White last summer.
It is also a record fee for a full-back, surpassing the £60m deal Man City paid to sign Joao Cancelo from Juventus in 2019.
Cucurella made his Chelsea debut in the first contest of the 2022/23 Premier League season against Everton — barely 24 hours after signing for the West London side.
The Spaniard played the final 15 minutes plus added time, and nearly racked up an assist to Raheem Sterling.
Having progressed through the national youth ranks, Cucurella was part of Spain’s U-23 side that won the silver medal at the 2020 Olympic Games, which took place in 2021 due to the previous year’s postponement as a result of coronavirus.
Due to the isolation of some national team players following the positive COVID-19 test of Sergio Busquets, Spain’s U-21 squad were called up for the international friendly against Lithuania in June 2021. Cucurella made his senior debut in the match as Spain won 4–0.
Why did Chelsea pay £62 million for Marc Cucurella and what will he bring to the Blues?
1. Cucurella’s key attributes & strengths
Despite some people marveling at the massive £62m fee that was paid for Cucurella, the Spaniard fits Thomas Tuchel’s system at Chelsea almost seamlessly.
The 24-year-old has produced some dominant displays in the defensive third of the field. He has the ability to time his tackles and can make some clever interceptions to win the ball back for his side.
Furthermore, he has proven to be productive on the attacking end as well. He excels at holding on to the ball and making some decent runs down the left flank.
He can even chip in with a few assists by creating meaningful chances using his wide array of crossing abilities.
During his two seasons in La Liga, Cucurella was top 25 in shot-creating actions, ahead of Luka Modric in the category in the 2019/20 season.
Despite not being as productive for Brighton, Cucurella had 4 goals and 8 assists at Getafe — demonstrating the fact he is more than capable of adding to the long list of Chelsea goal contributors.
On top of his creativity, the defender finished the 2021/22 Premier League season on top of the list at Brighton in total passes completed and second in successful tackles.
Only three players registered more than his 94 tackles in the Premier League last term. His tackle success was 67%.
Moreso, he was second in the entire English top flight last season in ball-winning tackles (62) — far more than any other player at Brighton.
He was also among the top 5 players in the Premier League in successful pressure percentage at 37.6%.
Not only was his pressure percentage better than any Chelsea player in the league last season, Cucurella also made more blocks than any of the Blues’ players as well.
Additionally, Cucurella made 30 interceptions, 65 clearances, 250 recoveries, 1,918 passes, 117 crosses, won 193 duels and made no single error that led to a goal.
He scored one goal and made one assist in 36 league appearances.
Given the combination of speed, awareness and elite defensive output on top of offensive creation, he adds a whole new layer to the Blues’ attack that fits the Tuchel system perfectly.
While the first match of the season against Everton was not perfect by any means from a Chelsea perspective, he showed flashes of what he could do in his new home.
From an overlooked Barcelona academy defender to a standout at Getafe and now suiting up for one of the largest clubs in England, Cucurella possesses all the tools on both sides of the ball to succeed.
He is an all-around talent who can provide something in the final third with his wand of a left-foot, while also putting in the dirty work to prevent the opposition from breaking breakthrough at the back.
His time at Getafe really helped him develop extremely well as he learned how to press, find the next best pass forward and contribute in a well-organized attacking system.
In particular, his high-energy performances, tough tackling and marauding down the wing caught the eye, while his two-footedness and assuredness on the ball were key traits in Brighton’s possession-based approach as they secured a best ever Premier League finish (9th).
The Spain international has performed consistently based on his averages of 0.5 shots, 0.8 dribbles, 1.2 key passes, 2.7 tackles, 0.9 interceptions and 1.9 clearances per game in the top tier of English football.
He has also been tidy with his ball distribution after completing 82% of his attempted passes in the English top-flight.
Marc Cucurella is a very versatile player who can play in variety of roles on the left-hand side including full-back, wing-back, centre-back or even in midfield.
At Chelsea, he now provides both competition with Ben Chilwell on the left side of the pitch and also gives Tuchel a multitude of options in the back line with his ability to play more than just one position.
As the Blues are still trying to sign a new right-sided defender, Cucurella gives the Blues an extremely creative and strong left side that now has two excellent left-backs that are interchangeable — with no downgrade in terms of quality.
As either a left center-back or a left wing-back, Cucurella has demonstrated the versatility and creativity to add an extra punch to both the attack and defense.
So should any of Chelsea center-backs need some time to recover/rest, Cucurella has experience playing in a back three — having done so with Brighton last season.
Furthermore, when Tuchel really wants to get creative, his new signing has experience playing higher up the pitch.
With the way the wing-backs play in Chelsea’s system, Cucurella will have plenty chances to attack the opposing back lines on the overlap.
In addition, he has the luxury to be able to make mistakes once in a while because he knows that his recovery pace will allow him to make up for the error.
Brighton’s extremely conservative way of playing football did not give Cucurella the freedom to unleash his full potential as he did at Getafe, but with his move to Stamford Bridge; Chelsea are on course to benefit hugely.
3. Interest from other clubs
Cucurella was wanted by Manchester City earlier in the summer but the club did not agree with the £50m valuation that Brighton placed on the player.
The Premier League champions submitted an initial bid of £30m which got rejected and then made an improved offer of £40m which was also rebuffed by the Seagulls.
Maybe Chelsea were also afraid that City could return with an improved offer which made the Blues quickly wrap up the deal.
4. Levi Colwill factor
During the negotiations for Marc Cucurella, Brighton were also pushing to sign youngster Levi Colwill but Chelsea opted against letting the young defender join the Seagulls permanently.
This made Brighton threaten to pull a plug on the Cucurella deal — the Seagulls even released an official statement denying that a deal for Cucurella has been agreed — forcing Chelsea to increase their offer.
Eventually, a season-long loan deal was agreed for Colwill. A win for Chelsea!
Given his youth at just 19 years old, Levi Colwill could end up being a world-class center-back down the line, which is why Chelsea’s refusal to sell him was understandable.
In past years, the Blues would most likely have sold him, but the new direction of the club has seen them prioritizing the future by bringing in some of the most elite young footballers into the academy and the first team.
From signing Carney Chukwuemeka, Gabriel Slonina and Omari Hutchinson to now giving Colwill a chance in the future of the team; new owner, Todd Boehly, is making sure the development of youth is important — despite huge ambitions to start challenging for titles.
5. More competition and depth to the squad
Marcos Alonso is heading to Barcelona. As his replacement, Cucurella gives Chelsea a much more dynamic and all-round defender with prolific attacking tendencies.
He has proven he can perform at an elite level in the Premier League already, which is another positive.
If his debut performance during the 2nd half against Everton was any indication of what is to come for Cucurella, the left side of the pitch for the Blues this season is going to cause plenty of headaches for any opposition team.
In order for Chelsea to capture the trophies that eluded them last season, an innovative footballer like Cucurella who provides even more depth is going to unlock the success.
Some people are going to look at the amount it costs to bring a player like this on board, but if the Blues have a chance to secure a young footballer in a position of need that has a little bit of everything in his back pocket, they certainly cannot pass that up.
His arrival at Stamford Bridge brings more competition to the left wing-back position, as Thomas Tuchel likes to play a three-man defence. Cucurella will do well to take the pressure off Ben Chilwell in the position.
Chelsea now boast of more depth at a position where they were lacking last season.
The Blues are now stronger and are one of the teams to watch out for in the 2022/23 season.
‘‘I’m very excited about what he can bring,’’ He’s a fantastic player, a fantastic guy”. ‘I don’t want to get too excited, but I have the feeling we signed the new Azpilicueta, in terms of his mentality, attitude, even in terms of his position, just with a left foot.”
“He can play in the back three, he can play wing-back and he is a very nice, very humble guy with his personality.”
“He is a fantastic player, a very intelligent player, who is very strong on the ball, aggressive off the ball, mobile, hungry, with a good attitude.” “So I’m very, very happy that he joins us.’”
“Ben looks better and better, but it seems he needs a little bit more time to adapt to the rhythm and physicality. He is impatient, we will never expect him to be fully patient.” He knows everything needs its time, he will get the time”.
“It helps for Ben to escape the pressure of “I have to deliver”. Marc is an option in this position and in the back three.”Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel on Marc Cucurella
What do you make of Chelsea’s £62m purchase of Marc Cucurella? Let us know in the comments.