Chelsea outcast Juan Cuadrado has largely been expected to either resume a bit-part role or leave the club once his loan at Juventus wraps up at the end of the season.
Tossed out of Stamford Bridge following a failed six-month spell under former Blues manager Jose Mourinho, the 27-year-old has rediscovered the dazzling form that captured the attention of so many top clubs while he was at Fiorentina.
But with Italy manager Antonio Conte confirmed to take over at Stamford Bridge at the conclusion of his Euro 2016 duties, it is entirely feasible Cuadrado could see his status change from handy back-up to key player in the summer.
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The Colombian has made 35 appearances in all competitions for Juventus – 21 one of them being starts – during a season-long battle with Switzerland international Stephan Lichtsteiner for the right-wing slot.
Cuadrado has enjoyed something of a renaissance during his spell with the Serie ‘A’ giants and reportedly done enough to convince Massimiliano Allegri of attempting to sign him on a permanent basis – a claim Conte has reportedly met with serious concern.
The 46-year-old, who was interested in bringing Cuadrado to Juventus during his tenure, has warned Chelsea to resist cashing in before he takes the reins in London.
Conte clearly has plans to utilise the versatile South American in some capacity next term – though perhaps not be in his favoured right-midfield position.
Instead, it is highly probable the Italian will do away with wingers altogether and endeavour to transfer the all-conquering 3-5-2 formation he employed at Juventus.
Should Conte dare to experiment with a three-man defence in the Premier League, Caudrado is a model candidate to become his first-choice right wing-back.
While Branislav Ivanovic arguably remains the number one conventional right-back at Stamford Bridge, the 32-year-old Serb hardly fits the mould of a box-to-box player.
Cesar Azpilicueta presents another option, but will likely continue on the left flank until Baba Rahman is deemed capable of holding his own in the English top-flight.
Cuadrado, however, possesses the speed, energy, dribbling and crossing abilities to tick many of the boxes required to excel in the duties of a wing-back.
He has previously played in a similar role for Udinese and Fiorentina, offering the mix of attacking spark and defensive insurance Conte’s fabled tactic demands of the specialist position.
The intricacies of a 3-5-2 system could prove too complex for Conte to drill into his new Chelsea squad during the off-season.
However, if the tactician opts to continue with the formation he used land three consecutive league titles at Juventus, shelling out for a new right wing-back would be a waste of money when he could have Cuadrado at his disposal.
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