Man City’s Marc Cucurella transfer interest makes sense after doubters proved wrong

The 23-year-old is reportedly one of Man City’s summer transfer targets after an impressive first season in the Premier League with Brighton

Pep Guardiola’s desperation to heal his longstanding problem position at Manchester City could reportedly come as a shock to Brighton left-back Marc Cucurella.

The City manager has alternated 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 this side of the pitch.

By contrast, Cucurella is left-footed and has been one of the Seagull’s standout players throughout the season – so much so that he recently received the club’s Player of the Season award. It’s quite an achievement for the 23-year-old, who joined Brighton just 12 months ago from Getafe in a deal worth £15.4million.

City would have to pay more to land him this summer but given his skills it’s easy to see why they might be interested.

The full-back is not particularly imposing in terms of his height or physical profile, being slight and measuring just 5ft 8in. However, he has relentless endurance and work speed. This means that a big part of his game is pushing players with possession and, according to FBref, he boasts of having pressed more successfully than any other Brighton player this season (197).

He’s also tough to beat in tackles, so much so that he’s even been called up at times as a center back for the Seagulls this season, a testament to his versatility and defensive prowess. This side of his game has come under scrutiny in the past, but Cucurella now enjoys proving his doubters wrong.

In an interview with Marca last month, the defender explained: “In the end, I wanted to play as a full-back, which I’ve 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 defense, Cucrella is just as relentless on the ball and plays a big part in pushing his team forward with possession. At Brighton, too, the 23-year-old leads in terms of most progressive carries, runs into the last third and most yards collected, and carries the ball to the opposition goal.

Brighton & Hove Albion’s Marc Cucurella during the Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Manchester United


Manchester United/Manchester United via Getty Images)

While those traits alone would make him desirable enough, what makes Cucurella even more appealing is the fact that he plays for a Brighton side managed by Graham Potter.

Although Brighton are less effective than City, Guardiola was an inspiration for many of Potter’s management tactics and their style of play mirrors that of the champions in many ways. Outside of the top 3 teams in the division, they lead in terms of possession and most pass attempts this season.

They also rank third behind City and Liverpool in terms of PPDA, a metric used to analyze how aggressively teams push opponents on the ball.

Cucurella has therefore plied his trade in an environment very similar to City’s, meaning the transition could be smooth for the Spain international if he joins the Etihad this summer. And it’s more than doable for the move to come based on both the Spaniard’s current skills and long-term potential.

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