How idleness became the most expensive left-back in the world

Marc Cucurella came to FC Barcelona at the age of 14, but would not be able to break through with the pros. At SD Eibar, the coach destroyed him first, but then began the wondrous journey of a very special man, who became the most expensive left-back in the world.

When SD Eibar looked for a left-back on the last transfer day in the summer of 2018, it was not that easy due to limited resources and an even more limited market that didn’t cast many affordable left-backs. Then Eibar was offered a certain Marc Cucurella.

What kind of player was he then? “He’s not fast, he’s not particularly strong. You can’t find everything you can measure with him. You would never capture him,” was the damning verdict of then-coach Jose Luis Mendilibar: “But he’s a footballer.” It sounds disastrous for a footballer when his only reason for being hired seems to be a professional.

“We were the only Primera Division team interested in him,” Eibar’s then sporting director Garagarza told dem. guards. “I called him and he was delighted because he knew this was his chance to play in the Premier League.” What has become of him is known: Cucurella switched to Chelsea in the summer for 65.3 million euros, making it the most expensive left-back in the world.

“You only know how good a player is when he is on the field,” says ex-teammate Rodri Tarin, who follows the career of his colleague and observes that Cucurella has managed to maintain his level with every new club and despite higher tasks. never lost weight. It’s no different with the blues. Cucurella keeps the pace. He immediately fought for a permanent place. He has already provided two assists in seven Premier League appearances.

How Marc Cucurella ended up at Chelsea

Chelsea’s now sacked ex-coach Thomas Tuchel called Cucurella a “fantastic young player. He is hungry, agile and very intelligent. He can play in multiple positions in our system.” It was a feat for Chelsea to get Cucurella as Manchester City seemed to be the favorite for a long time.

The champion had given Aleksandr Zinchenko to Arsenal and was looking for an alternative. The fact that Catalan Cucurella was a near-perfect Guardiola player with La Masia’s training was not enough to convince Brighton & Hove Albion to release him for the €50million initially offered.

Brighton has said with Cucurella that they will not take a rigorous stance if a lucrative prospect comes along, but not at any cost. Cucurella didn’t want to be rude and blackmail his sales like some people do. He remained the sincere and friendly type described by those around him. In the end he was allowed to transfer to Chelsea, which offered a little more money.

Marc Cucurella’s stations

Period of time station
until 2012 Espanyol Barcelona (youth)
2012 – 2018 FC Barcelona
2018 – 2019 SD Eibar (loan)
2019 – 2021 FC Getafe (incl. loan)
2021 – 2022 Brighton & Hove Albion
since Aug 2022 Chelsea FC

Debut for Spain because everyone was in quarantine

Cucurella’s rise certainly caused a stir in Spain, where he only made one international appearance – when the entire team went into quarantine in June 2021. And especially at his ex-club FC Barcelona. He was trained there after the boy was discovered and won over by Espanyol Barcelona’s neighbors. He was victorious in all age groups, he even made his professional debut in a meaningless cup match, but that was all he could do.

When he went to Eibar, two clauses were put in place: Eibar can buy him for two million euros, Barcelona can buy him back for four million euros. Both options were drawn. However, Barca had no intention of bringing in Cucurella as a backup to Jordi Alba, but playing him on profitably. Getafe FC took Cucurella with a ten million clause, Barca as a replacement for Alba for 20 million euros and Junior Firpo for 20 million euros. An expensive flop.

Marc Cucurella must not forget FC Barcelona

“When I left Barca I had a little thorn in my side,” he said in a Twitch interview in February 2022. “They didn’t give me the chance and never explained why. If I had the chance to return turn, it would be special, I’d be rid of this thorn.”

Looking at his development since then, it seems the Barca bosses misjudged that they have not given him a chance, especially as they are said to be interested in Cucurella this summer. But at the price quoted, Barca got out early. Cucurella was too expensive even for the great Barcelona this season.

Blaming them for not recognizing their own player’s talent can stop them. But it’s also true that Cucurella is a late bloomer and the decision not to keep him was probably bearable at the time. He simply cannot be seen in the senior team and Cucurella is not the first player to realize his true potential later on.

Graham Potter followed Marc Cucurella to Chelsea

After the solid season in Eibar, he had even more influence on the game in Getafe, and in the end he was unstoppable there too. At the beginning of last season, he was actually about to move to Burnley FC. He visited the city, the training ground. He enjoyed being together in the town of Sean Dyche and thought it would be a good idea to move there.

But then came Graham Potter. The Brighton manager outlined a plan for Cucurella to become a top player thanks to the playing style of what is arguably the best running team in the Premier League. Brighton offered less money, but more prospects. If you look at the developments of both teams, it was a bull’s eye.

Though Cucurella also has to admit that it wasn’t just because of Potter, but also because of his neighbor from Madrid, who is a pilot and previously lived in Brighton for several years and raved about the city by the sea all the way to Cucurella. He still wants to get there every now and then, even though he now lives an hour away in London. That’s how long Potter now has to Brighton: After Tuchel’s resignation, he recently took over the position of coach at Chelsea.

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