Five reasons why Marc Cucurella is perfect for Manchester City
The Spanish left-back is on top of Pep Guardiola's list of transfer targets.
Premier League champions Manchester City are said to be interested in signing Brighton and Hove Albion's left-back Marc Cucurella to strengthen their defence. The arrival of Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund has already added firepower to their attack.
The 23-year-old Cucurella joined Brighton from Getafe for an estimated fee of £15 million last summer. He has enjoyed a very successful first season in the English top-flight, impressing fellow Catalan Pep Guardiola with his performances. The defender has previously also had a spell at Barcelona where he made it to the B team, but not beyond.
Pep Guardiola has always been open in admitting the importance of full-backs in how teams play these days, as they help attack space when teams play narrow and deep. This makes it clear the kind of role Guardiola expects his full-backs to play, and why he is pursuing Cucurella. We take a look at five reasons why Marc Cucurella could be the perfect defender for Manchester City.
A natural left-back
Since Benjamin Mendy’s absence from the first team, Manchester City have gone about their business without a natural left-back in their squad. First, Ukrainian midfielder Oleksandr Zinchenko has filled as a makeshift left-back for a number of years now, and later Joao Cancelo made the position his own after moving from Juventus.
With Zinchenko expected to change clubs, with Everton, Arsenal and West Ham interested in his services, Cucurella’s addition will ease the transition and also help move Cancelo to his natural right-back position.
Unlocking Joao Cancelo
Joao Cancelo was the Premier League’s best left-back last season and was also named in the PFA Team of the Year. Combined with his defensive strengths and attacking acumen, it’s easy to forget that the Portuguese international is actually a right-back primarily.
While the 28-year-old is versatile and can play on either end of the defence, adding Cucurella and moving him to the right will give Manchester City attacking threats from both wings. Similar to the way Liverpool utilize Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson.
Fits like a glove
In a team like Manchester City that dominates possession in matches and always plays their way out from the back, the ability to play the right pass makes a big difference. It is something Pep Guardiola demands of his players to produce every match.
In the Premier League last season, Cucurella stands ninth for successful final third passes (531) — one of the many signs of how effective he is at picking the right pass in the attack. For comparison, Joao Cancelo (847) topped this metric. So Cucurella should, in theory, would fit in nicely at the Etihad.
Cucurella has always been known as an attack-minded full-back. In the 2020-21 season, Getafe registered 6.9 key passes per game thanks to the Spaniard’s forward-minded style. He also created at least 14 more goalscoring opportunities (39) than any other Getafe player in that campaign.
While Cucurella got just one goal and picked up a solitary assist in the Premier League last season. A lot of that is due to the lack of forwards at Brighton to convert the chances created. Only Trent Alexander-Arnold (51) and Reece James (42) made more key passes from open play than Cucurella (40) out of the defenders in the Premier League last season.
While his strengths going forward are great, he is equally adept when it comes to defending. Brighton’s defensive solidity was in no small part due to Cucurella’s presence. Graham Potter's side finished with the sixth-best defensive record last season and conceded the sixth-fewest shot (12.5) per game. Cucurella made more tackles (93) than any Brighton player, which also ranks him fourth in the league. Amongst the full-backs in the top flight, he ranks second for winning possession (124) in the defensive third.
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