After a loan at Eibar in the 18/19 season, and at Getafe in the present one, Barcelona have announced this morning the permanent sale of Marc Cucurella to the latter club.
Marc Cucurella is, again, leaving Barcelona for the second, third or fourth time after having barely stepped on the Catalan city since he first departed on loan two years ago. The story of the La Masía graduate with Barça’s first team has been full of twists and turns, but with a single appearance with the senior side. This lone game with the blaugranas came in the Copa del Rey in October 2017, coming on as a substitute against Real Murcia. While he had arrived to the Barcelona academy in 2012 from Espanyol, that was the only official match the natural left-back enjoyed with the big boys.
His spell in the first team was predicted to last longer, though. With the departure of Lucas Digne in 2018, Marc Cucurella was expected to step up as Jordi Alba’s back-up. But, after preseason, coach Ernesto Valverde decided to put more faith in the younger Juan Miranda. In the end, Miranda was never properly trusted by Valverde either, while Cucurella left on loan to SD Eibar in his first full campaign in the top flight.
At José Luis Mendilibar’s Eibar, he had to settle into a completely opposed style of play, less possession-oriented but very aggressive with and without the ball. Not only was the football practiced different, but the position was new for Marc too. Cucu began operating as a left midfielder in a 4–4–2 thanks to his offensive nature, pressing ability and crossing expertise. In this new role, Cucurella stood out in the 2018/19 term.
Marc Cucurella already impressed in his first loan at Eibar | Photo by Cristina Quicler / AFP via Getty Images
Therefore, once the loan finalised, Eibar decided to exercise the €2-million purchase option that had been included in the deal. Nevertheless, Barcelona also retained a €4-million buyback clause, which they exercised almost immediately. As a consequence, Cucurella was heading back to Catalonia, but he lasted there only a few hours.
Two days after the re-purchase from Barça, it was announced that Marc Cucurella would be leaving on loan again. This time, to Getafe CF. José Bordalás’ Getafe have similar traits to Eibar, with dynamism, extreme commitment and their characteristic 4–4–2. Thus, as he did at Ipurua, Cucurella was expected to fit like a glove into the azulones‘ system.
Again, his adaptation was seamless. In his second course in the First Division, Marc has been irreplaceable for Bordalás. Mostly operating as a left midfielder or left winger, the young Catalan has featured in 39 games for Getafe. In the league he has started in all 31 matches he has played, only missing one clash against Mallorca through suspension. Additionally, he has completed the full 90 minutes in all but eight of these 31 La Liga fixtures.
Furthermore, Getafe’s impressive 18/19 season has allowed Cucurella to gain experience in the international tournaments too. He has played a key role in Geta knocking Ajax out in the Europa League, where they will face Antonio Conte’s Inter Milan in August. With impressive performances on a regular basis and on the biggest stage, Marc continues to make a name for himself in Spain.
Apart from being a starter week in and week out for Getafe, Cucurella has been acquiring experience in the Europa League too | Photo by Legan P. Mace / Zuma via Imago
At the same time, his past two campaigns have been attracting more and more suitors. Napoli, Chelsea, Borussia Mönchengladbach and Bayer Leverkusen were just some of the reported clubs interested in signing Cucurella this summer. However, Getafe retained a preferential option to buy him permanently, which they have just executed. Initially, the Madrid-based side had the option to buy him for 6 million euros plus 40 percent of a future sale. Still, Barça have agreed to give up on 30 percent in exchange for 4 extra million euro.
In other words, as announced on Tuesday morning, Getafe have bought Marc Cucurella permanently for 10 million euros, while Barcelona hold 10 percent of a future sale of the player. This means that, for the second time, Cucurella’s link with the azulgranas has come to an end. On this occasion, Barça are not expected to buy him back, as there is no clause to do so.
While several months ago it had been rumoured that Barcelona were interested in bringing the 21-year-old back as Jordi Alba’s back-up, that possibility seems to have faded away. With a single Copa del Rey appearance and a couple of preseason friendlies, Cucurella had barely been given a chance at Barça’s first team. Now that he has proven himself, though, the club has used such successful loans to generate some extra and much-needed money. Getafe and Marc Cucurella will certainly be pleased that they can continue battling and performing together for longer.
Four candidates for the right-back spot at Barça are on the table
The last few years have been quite disappointing from Barcelona for not only the fans, but also the board. In sporting scenarios as well as commercial, Barcelona are not where they want to be. As a club, FC Barcelona needs a lot of changes if not a huge rebuild. One of the positions which must be strengthened is the right-back role. Wih Nelson Semedo’s move to Wolves all but confirmed, a new right-back is more of a necessity than ever. In this article, we’ll go through and review the four main potential replacements for the Portuguese at right-back.
Though Sergi Roberto has played at right-back often, it’s not his natural position and that is apparent against tougher opponents. As much as watching a La Masia graduate like Sergi make it big is special, a better right-back is a necessity. The four main candidates that we will go over are Hector Bellerin, Sergino Dest, Max Aarons and Emerson Royal.
Bellerin is someone who once was a very promising youngster. His performances at La Masia caught Arsenal’s eyes and he moved to Arsenal in the summer of 2011. Since then, he has gone on to play 207 matches for the Gunners’ first team in all competitions. Tactically, Bellerin is a smart player. Something that is admirable about the 25-year-old is that he knows when and when to not commit himself to the tackle. This is somewhere he edges out Roberto. The latter is patient when defending but his judgment against dribblers is often lacking.
Photo by Will Oliver – Pool/Getty Images
Bellerin’s most characteristic trait is his pace. He is aware of this fact and uses it in tandem with spatial exploitation well. If he has a lot of space in front of him, which is often the case in Barcelona with Messi drifting inwards, Bellerin is a great asset to progress the ball. However, he does need space. Unlike Semedo, the Spaniard doesn’t operate as well in tight spaces. In terms of crossing Bellerin is quite average. His deliveries are often redundant which is the main drawback. However, the ex-La Masia player has good awareness and often pulls the ball back accurately.
Arsenal have reportedly agreed to sell Bellerin if an offer for £18m arrives. In Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Arsenal have a wing-back who could take over the right-back spot soon. For Barcelona, Bellerin would add a different profile in the dressing room, and with his outgoing nature and Spanish connection, fitting in would not be a problem as it often can be for English players at Barcelona. Though he isn’t the best positionally in the final-third and he does have a history with injuries, Bellerin could be a good signing for Barcelona. However, this does not necessarily mean that he would be the best signing from these four. This leads us to our next candidate.
Dest is someone that a huge number of Barcelona fans have always been drawn to. The void left by Dani Alves has not even come close to being filled. In Dest, Culés see a full-back of a similar mould.
Sergino Dest has the profile of an ideal Barcelona right-back. Positionally smart, pacey with good dribbling, and naturally good in attack, the Netherlands born right-back is a United States international who joined Ajax in 2019. At Ajax, Dest has been a reliable and impressive player. Playing 37 matches and 2,709 minutes, he has scored twice and assisted six goals.
Dest is an excellent dribbler. His pace combined with his quick feet means that he can play as a wing-back as well as a more defensive-minded full-back. He uses quick bursts as well as good combinational play to get past the opposition. Something that Barcelona have missed sorely is the excellent combinations between Leo Messi and Alves down the right. This allowed the team to safely, yet quickly progress the ball.
Photo via Imago
The American is able to cut in very efficiently as well which makes him a good choice for overlaps as well as underlaps. Tactically, Dest is very quick at decision making. When the right-central midfielder drifts wider, Dest drives into the space created though the centre. He is very comfortable receiving and playing in tight spaces, which is something that could immensely help Barcelona. The 19-year-old isn’t shy to cross often either, and he backs those crosses with a good delivery more often than not. In the final-third, he shows good visions. Often, he can be seen drifting in and playing a ball through the lines.
As of now, Barcelona and Bayern are the front-runners to sign Sergino. Sergino Dest is a very young player who is very impressive for his age. In Dest, Barcelona achieve two highly important things. Firstly, to acquire a young player who could be an integral part of the squad for years. Secondly, and more importantly, the Blaugrana would take a step in the right direction, towards the playing philosophies the club is based upon, and away from the recent loss of identity.
Eemrson broke into Brazilian football at Atletico Mineiro and accumulated a playtime of over 2,000 minutes. He captured the attention of Barcelona and along with Betis, the two clubs carried out a deal in which he is contracted to play for two seasons with Betis and then join Barcelona. As of now, he has played 43 matches for Betis, getting three goals and six assists in the process.
Emerson has been given a lot of freedom at Betis. With Nabil Fekir drifting inwards, Emerson has a lot of space to himself. He has taken this opportunity well and showcased his attacking ability superbly. He drives forward at every opportunity and shows an attacking mentality. His work rate is impressive, not only in attack but in defense as well. He covers a lot of ground in each match. His defending, however, is not polished. Though it is partly due to the numerous tactical problems Betis have faced under Rubi, this is still an aspect the Brazilian needs to improve upon.
Emerson has had problems with positioning and knowing which run to track with Betis’ system putting him against more than one opponent at times. His acceleration has helped him many times though. With his pace and work rate, Emerson does work relentlessly in defense.
Photo by Joaquin Corchero via Imago
At six feet, Emerson can also be a threat from set-pieces. His attacking contributions are still strong without this aspect. Excellent at linking with the attackers and with attacking versatility, the 21-year-old shows more promise in attack than in defense. Emerson hence won more fouls and had more touches in the opposition box than any other defender in the 2019/20 La Liga season.
Barcelona would be improving over Sergi Roberto with Emerson at right-back. For €12 million, Barcelona can sign Emerson from Betis through a clause in the contract. However, Barcelona might face problems in terms of defensive stability the same way they did with Semedo. Though Emerson is a very promising player, he must defensively improve significantly to warrant starting for FC Barcelona.
Max Aarons has had an incredible rise in the past few years. From being selected in the Men/s PFA Championship Team of the Year to becoming one of the most important players for Norwich next to only Tim Krul and Pukki, Aarons has gone from strength to strength. Now at 20 years of age, the English youngster is one of the most promising right-backs in the world.
Aarons is another player who has the kind of profile a Barcelona full-back should. His dribbling ability and pace is superb, he is positionally very mature and is solid in attack as well as defense. One of his characteristics are his runs down the right, with and without the ball. Aarons has an attacking mindset which is showcased through his constant attempts getting forward when possible. Aarons completes a lot of take-ons and he is impressive when driving forwards as he often does.
Photo by JULIAN FINNEY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images
Though he has a strong attacking style of play, he does not compromise in defense either. Aarons is very calm when defending. He has great awareness and he knows when to commit and when to not. With well-timed tackles and good judgement, the youngster gets the ball through pure tackling as well as interceptions often and efficiently. However, somewhere he struggles is in a 3v2 situation. He often leaves space between himself and the central-defender and makes the wrong decision when tracking his marker.
In attack, Aarons shows incredible ability as well as the potential to do much better. He is very good at choosing whether to whip the ball in, or to chip it, or to lay it off for a teammate in the final third. His attacking decision making is very mature for his age. Often, he combines with his teammates to get into the box and take a shot or pull the ball back. His shooting ability is surprisingly good. Considering the tight angles full-backs usually find themselves facing, accuracy and good decision making is a huge factor. Aarons shows he possesses a fair amount.
As of now, Aarons is linked with Barcelona but not heavily. One thing to consider when signing him apart from his abilities would be the problems English players have when fitting into Barcelona. Recently, Marcus McGuane and Louie Barry found it tough and we’re unable to progress at Barcelona. Though he may be a good choice for Barcelona, it seems unlikely that he will leave Norwich, especially for a club outside England. Regardless, Max Aarons is one of the most exciting right-backs in world football with a bright future ahead of him and one to keep an eye on. For Barcelona, Aarons seems like a very good fit on paper.