Chelsea clinched the title with three games to spare, the first of those 3 being Sunday’s 1-1 draw against Liverpool. While with two games left and exactly 6 points left to touch the score of 90, we would want to play with our best squad and win emphatically. But another ideal thing to do is to give chances to some fresh faces, and to those who hardly got any chance to feature in the starting 11.
The mid-season signing from Fiorentina, Juan Cuadrado, is one of them. The Colombian joined Chelsea on February 2, 2015, in a deal that involved 27 million euros plus Chelsea’s Mohammad Salah in exchange.
While Salah has been on fire ever since, Cuadrado has not proved his worth till now. The 26-year-old winger has got to make only a few starts, playing under the shadow of firstly-preferred Hazard, Oscar or Willian in the middle and usually coming on as a substitute. In 9 appearances for the Blues in Premier League, including three starts, Cuadrado has a terrible scoring record with no goal or assist to his name. Apart from some contributions to the goals, he has had nothing memorable in his spell at Chelsea so far. The amount spent on him seems to be a big waste as of now, but it might be too early to comment anything on the topic.
With his looks resembling Jaden Smith in ‘The Karate Kid’, Cuadrado has arrived in West London at a time when every other opposition fears Chelsea’s midfield. Tough competition from Hazard, Oscar and Willian has made life at Stamford Bridge a little hard for him. Giving Cuadrado only a few chances was right on Jose’s part as well, considering the fact that Chelsea had the title to lose. And in that situation, Jose had to trust his tried and tested guns and couldn’t risk giving trials to the new one. But things have changed now.
Oscar is expected to stay an absentee till the end of the season due to a head injury, and Chelsea have already been crowned as the champions. All this may add up to Jose giving a deserving chance to youngsters in his squad or to the ones like Cuadrado, who must be looking forward to impressing him.
As we saw Ruben Loftus Cheek being handed over a debut in a big game against Liverpool and making his opportunity count, the next two comparatively easy games may give Cuadrado two consecutive starts with sufficient playing time. Fortunes change overnight. The same could be the story of the 26-year-old; from a so-called flop or waste signing to a January transfer window success. At this point of time, no one can say what the next season will be like for him. Although Jose says that he will be patient with the ex-Fiorentina man and predicts that the next season will be better one.
“I just know that it’s different to play in Italy than to plan in England, different to play for Fiorentina than for Chelsea. A player needs time and I am ready to give him time. The club is ready to give him time. It looks like he’s ready to have this time. Next season, I believe he can have a fantastic season.”
But also, the guy must take the coming two games as a now or never situation, as this would be his time and nobody can take that away from him. We all wish for him to excel in the race of making it to the starting 11 more often, but these matches can be the golden chance he is looking for. With no other pressure of the title or being substituted on his shoulders, he must shift complete focus on his game and make an impact in front of Jose and the fans. As someone even with a short memory can fathom, not every winter signing can be Nemanja Matic. Point in case being Mohammad Salah, who didn’t make much of an impact when he got the chances. Cuadrado needs to not become the next Salah. He certainly has the skills, all he needs is to discover himself again.
And yes, we take our words back. The 27 million euros spent on the Colombian will not go in vain, but only if there’s a proper return on them. As of what Jose thinks and says about the player, he knows what to do to make him a big hit among the Stamford Bridge faithful.
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Edited By: Ojas Tripathi
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