Barcelona, not Manchester United, favorites for Juan Cuadrado?

Warren Little

Colombian superstar Juan Cuadrado is likely to leave Fiorentina for a lot of money. One report says Barcelona are the favorites. Wait, what?

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Juan Cuadrado is probably leaving Fiorentina this summer, and he's going to sit down with the club brass to sort out his future shortly. The Viola want to keep him, but will sell him if they get a huge offer. None of this is surprising. What is surprising is that Italian journalist Gianluca Di Marzio is reporting that Barcelona are in the lead to sign the Colombian star.

Wait, Barcelona? The same Barcelona that just spent a truckload of money (high estimates were £75m) on Luis Suarez?

Why it makes sense

Barcelona make a lot of money, and can (theoretically) afford to spend lots of money in the transfer window. There's also the possibility that their suspended transfer ban could be reinforced come this January or next summer, so it makes sense for them to get a lot of business done right now. Also, despite Luis Suarez's signing, they're not spending more in wages than they were last season -- Ivan Rakitic makes less than Cesc Fabregas, while Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Claudio Bravo's combined wages are almost certainly less than what Barca paid Victor Valdes.

Cuadrado has also played some right back before, though it's mostly been as a wingback in front of a back three, and not so much in a back four. It's tough to see him agreeing to sign on with Barcelona with the understanding that he'll be a winger primarily, since he'll never start ahead of any of Neymar, Suarez or Lionel Messi when they're all fit. But Dani Alves doesn't do much defending, so it's not like Barcelona aren't used to playing a converted winger who's an all-out attacker at right back. If Alves is sold, Cuadrado could presumably be brought in to replace him.

Why it doesn't make sense

While Barcelona have plenty of money to spend, are they really going to want to throw down what it'll take to get Cuadrado, just to leave him on the bench or play him at right back? La Gazzetta Dello Sport has previously reported that Manchester United offered €40m for Cuadrado, but that their bid was rejected, and that they would need to add another €10m on top of that to acquire him. Cuadrado's a great player, but €50m is a lot.

The rumors that Dani Alves could move to Paris Saint-Germain have also slowed up a bit. There were grumblings that he could head to Paris for straight cash or as part of a swap for central defender Marquinhos earlier in the summer, but those rumors have disappeared in the last couple of weeks, and there's no indication that PSG are continuing to chase Alves. That could change at any time, of course -- PSG just sold Jeremy Menez and Alex to AC Milan.

Likelihood it happens

On the surface, this seems a bit insane. Alves is already not a right back, but Cuadrado is really not a right back. But if Alves is sold for a bit less than Cuadrado, but Cuadrado's wages are quite a bit lower, it's probably a break even proposition financially for Barcelona over the next 2-3 years. That makes it plausible. But since the Alves to PSG rumors seem to have dried up a bit, we're giving this a 2 out of 10.

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