The 23-year-old is reportedly one of Man City’s summer transfer targets after an impressive first Premier League campaign with Brighton
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Pep Guardiola’s desperation to cure his long-term problem position at Manchester City could reportedly be leading him to a shock swoop for Brighton left-back Marc Cucurella.
The City boss has rotated between either Oleksandr Zinchenko or Joao Cancelo in the left-back role this season, with the former proving decent if unremarkable, while the latter is right-footed and therefore better suited to a role on that side of the pitch.
By contrast, Cucurella is left-footed, and he’s been one of the Seagull’s standout players across the campaign – so much so that he recently scooped the club’s Player of the Season award. That’s a sizeable achievement for the 23-year-old who only joined Brighton 12 months ago from Getafe in a deal worth £15.4million.
City would have to pay more than that to land him this summer, yet based on his ability, it’s easy to see why they may be interested.
The wing-back isn’t particularly imposing in terms of his size or physical profile, he is slight in build and stands at just 5ft 8ins. However, he’s got unrelenting stamina and work rate. This means harrying players in possession is a big part of his game and according to FBref, he boasts having made more successful pressures than any other Brighton player this season (197).
He’s also tough to overcome in duels, so much so that he’s even at times been used as a centre-back for the Seagulls this season, which is a testament to his versatility and defensive prowess. That side of his game has come under scrutiny in the past, however Cucurella is now enjoying proving his doubters wrong.
Last month in an interview with Marca, the defender stated: “In the end, what I was looking for was to play as a full-back, which is what I have done all my life. There were people who said I couldn’t play as a full-back because I couldn’t defend, but now I’m proving I can even play as a centre-back in a back three.”
Away from the defensive side of the game, Cucrella is just as unyielding with the ball too and plays a big role in driving his team up the pitch in possession. Again at Brighton the 23-year-old ranks top in terms of the highest number of progressive carries, runs into the final third and most accumulated yards carrying the ball towards the opposition’s goal.
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While these traits alone would make him desirable enough, what adds further appeal to Cucurella is the fact that he’s been playing within a Brighton side managed by Graham Potter.
Although Brighton are less effective than City, Guardiola has been an inspiration behind many of Potter’s managerial tactics, and their style of play does in many ways mirror that of the champions. Outside of the division’s top three sides, they rank top in terms of ball possession and for having attempted the highest number of passes this season.
They also rank third behind only City and Liverpool in terms of PPDA, a metric used to analyse how aggressively teams press opponents on the ball.
Cucurella has therefore been plying his trade in an environment very similar to that of City, meaning the transition could be smooth for the Spanish international if he was to make a move to the Etihad this summer. And it’s more than feasible that switch happens based on both the Spaniard’s current ability and long-term potential.