Marc Cucurella has been the subject of transfer speculation regarding a Manchester City move for a while now. The 23-year-old former Barcelona man has enjoyed a successful start to his Premier League journey with Brighton & Hove Albion, picking his deserved Brighton ‘Player of the year award‘ a few weeks ago.
Cucurella has only scored once and assisted another in the league this season but that shouldn’t be a cause for concern as his creative numbers rank in the upper tier of fullbacks in the league. In fact, he created more goalscoring chances from open play (40) than both Robertson (38) and Cancelo (36) this season [WhoScored].
GREALISH HELPING HAND
Jack Grealish went from an attacking maverick playing with full freedom to having to hold width and retain the ball much more. It takes getting used to, most Guardiola’s attackers go through their period of acclimation.
Grealish himself said that he’s still getting used to Pep’s football and Cucurella might just help with that.
We could see Cucurella given more freedom to bomb forward even if he plays mostly inverted. Although City’s fullbacks don’t overlap as much, having one who can overlap and underlap would give Grealish more options to work with.
HOW DOES HE COMPARE?
Cucurella’s passing numbers rank high among the league’s elite.
He’s a progressive passer (5 progressive passes/90), but also one who completes a high amount of passes per 90 (68). He’s less technical than both Cancelo and Zinchenko but a much better defender who’s quicker than both.
Cucurella is an annoying defender for attackers who presses well and closes down angles at will. He gaz-umps both Zinchenko and Cancelo looking at defensive numbers but Man City are MUCH more ball-dominant than Brighton, hence the difference in such numbers.
It has to be said that he’s much more comfortable staying wider and keeping width than coming inside and it would probably take some time for him to learn the ropes of playing inverted for a Guardiola team.
It would take a big first impression for him to throw out Cancelo out of the first eleven but considering how Guardiola uses all of his squad, he’ll get his chances.
With Zinchenko rumoured to be leaving, Cucurella might just be what City need. A natural defender with pace to burn and passing numbers to back it up. Top.