Juan Cuadrado made his Chelsea debut as a substitute against Aston Villa when he came on for Willian. But, in future, is it more likely that the substitution will be the other way around?
Chelsea’s signing of Cuadrado from Fiorentina before the close of the January transfer window has led to the general assumption that Willian’s place is most under threat from the Colombian.
It’s easy to see why. Willian operates on the right of Chelsea’s 4-2-3-1 formation and that is the position where Cuadrado is most dangerous as he showed in last summer’s World Cup.
When you compare the stats of the two players, it also seems to make a compelling case for Cuadrado to be picked ahead of Willian.
Since Willian joined Chelsea in the summer of 2013, he has scored five goals and got four assists in 48 Premier League appearances. In the same period, Cuadrado scored 15 goals and provided nine assists for Fiorentina in 49 games in Serie A.
So, my basic maths would tell me that Cuadrado is three times the goal threat and double the provider of Willian.
Yet it would be wrong to just use the statistics as a reason why Willian should be axed by Jose Mourinho to accommodate Cuadrado into his starting line-up.
There is more to Willian’s game than those goal and assists stats will attest to. He has already spoken of his willingness to fight for his place following the signing of Cuadrado.
That was in evidence in the 2-1 win at Villa. Willian created the opening goal for Eden Hazard with a clever pass into the box. His movement across the pitch was also excellent, popping up into pockets of space to look dangerous and he was also dutiful in his defensive work. It was definitely the performance of a man who knows he is being watched closely, and not just by Mourinho.
Is there a serious threat to anyone else’s place in the team following the Cuadrado signing? Probably not.
Hazard has to be pretty untouchable on the left and Oscar has scored six goals and provided seven assists in his 20 league appearances this season from the central role behind the striker. Willian is capable of playing the same position as his fellow Brazilian and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see some rotation in those roles in the coming weeks with the Champions League due to resume.
But you could also argue that there’s really no rush to bring Cuadrado straight into the starting line-up.
It may seem weird to say that about a player who has cost somewhere in the region of £26.5million, but Chelsea recouped around that amount by selling the regular substitute Andre Schurrle to Wolfsburg.
With a seven-point lead at the top of the table as well, it’s not as if Cuadrado is required to lead an inspired fightback in the title race either. You can make up your own mind if you have a look at Chelsea’s price at http://www.bet365.com/news/en/betting/football/premier-league in the Premier League betting.
Instead, it would be much better to let Cuadrado gradually get up to speed with the demands of the Premier League, especially while he’s still trying to escape that witch that has been haunting him!
Cuadrado’s presence on the bench could also inspire Willian to a greater level of effectiveness in the team and then it will definitely be win-win for Chelsea.