Manchester United have made a bid for Juan Cuadrado, one of the stars of Colombia’s memorable World Cup campaign. This is according to Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport, who claim a formal approach in excess of €40 million has been submitted for the Fiorentina player.
World Cup wonder
Cuadrado has been coveted by some of Europe’s elite clubs for some time given his performances in Serie A, and has now conveyed his talents to a global audience in Brazil. The 27-year-old midfielder has contributed three assists in four games - a benchmark in the tournament - with Colombia in the quarter-finals.
Manchester United have been credited with interest for a few months but, if the report from Italy can be believed, appear to have decided to act upon it with Cuadrado’s market value set to increase with every moment of quality he produces in with Colombia.
A manager's dream
The supposed pursuit of Cuadrado may well be more evidence that Louis van Gaal will introduce the fruitful 3-5-2/3-4-3 formation he has used to great success with the Netherlands at the World Cup.
Cuadrado is predominantly an attacking midfielder but is not easily defined given his versatility. For Fiorentina last season he occupied nine roles, although many were a slight variation on a wide right position, making him something of a manager’s dream.
For Colombia, Cuadrado has been playing on the right of an attacking midfield triumvirate, while for Fiorentina he operated most efficiently on the opposite flank. He could, then, slot in a variety of positions in Van Gaal’s system.
Potentially perfect for Van Gaal
Cuadrado could effectively operate in either of the wing-back positions, with Van Gaal not afraid to place players with greater attacking instinct in this role. The new Manchester United boss has demonstrated this in the last two outings for the Netherlands, with Dirk Kuyt having played as something of a left-back in each of these victories.
Kuyt naturally does not have the legs of Cuadrado, and his ability to get cover ground at pace makes him a very attractive prospect. Cuadrado’s top speed at the World Cup has been 31.61kmph, with Pablo Armero the only Colombian to have been faster.
Cuadrado clearly has the attributes both physically and creatively to prove an excellent signing for Manchester United. However, doubt remains about the club’s willingness to spend so significantly on his proposed acquisition.
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Cheaper options available
Manchester United have already spent in excess of £60 million on their first two signings of the summer, Ander Herrera and Luke Shaw, and a central defender is the next recruit on the agenda of Van Gaal.
Fiorentina will supposedly only entertain offers of €50 million for Cuadrado, and this fee could well prove a significant obstacle. Van Gaal will find far cheaper options elsewhere, particularly in his Netherlands squad.
Daley Blind or Daryl Janmaat, as shown at the World Cup, can perform expertly in these wing-back positions, and will come at a price far less than Cuadrado. The Colombian, of course, can also operate as a No.10, but Manchester United already have plenty of those.