Perhaps you haven’t forgotten the moment when Juan Cuadrado, climbing over the shoulder of Massimiliano Allegri, emptied a can of foam to celebrate Juventus’ latest capture of Coppa Italia title in 2018, making his gaffer unrecognisable from the top.
Back then, Juan Cuadrado was a pivotal player for Juventus and one of Allegri’s favourites, of course. Not much has changed since then — only both have grown older. One year after lifting that Coppa Italia title, the 54-year-old would leave the Piedmontese club, only for the hierarchy to realise two years later that they had made a terrible blunder by parting ways with the five-time Scudetto winner with the Old Lady.
Juan Cuadrado without Allegri…
While not everyone benefited from Allegri’s departure in 2019, Juan Cuadrado was able to find a new layer of consistency in the absence of the Tuscan. A positional alteration spurred something extraordinary inside him. Under the supervision of Maurizio Sarri in the 2019/20 season, the Colombian played 35 matches as a right-back, racking up one goal and five assists, as per Transfermarkt.
The following season, Andrea Pirlo took over as manager. He was in favour of using Cuadrado for multipurpose. Yet, at the end of the season, the records — taken from Transfermarkt — ended up stating that he, like his predecessor, had primarily used the South American as the right-back. Cuadrado made 23 appearances in Pirlo’s backline last season.
And it was not as if he wasn’t successful. The 33-year-old recorded an impressive tally of 12 assists while operating from the right-back position, further outlining the versatile attributes that Cuadrado possesses.
In all, he amassed ten assists and two goals in Serie A last season as he established himself as one of Juve’s most reliable employees down the right flank.
How has Cuadrado done for Juventus this season?
If truth be told, Cuadrado, despite scoring one against Udinese in the season-opener of the domestic campaign earlier this term, has had a pretty disappointing spell so far. Out of his eight league appearances, he has started a game six times and come onto the field as a substitute twice.
In the Champions League this season, the veteran has made three appearances, with two of them being from the start. Cuadrado set his bar so high last season that his disjointed start to this 2020/21 season has not impressed the Bianconeri faithful.
While it is obvious that he has not committed horrendous mistakes on his own, he is no more the productive cog he was last season. According to the data from FBref.com, Juan Cuadrado has accumulated an xA [expected assist] of 0.20 per 90 minutes in Serie A this campaign — much less than last season’s 0.30 — portraying how much he has struggled offensively. As such, something notable needs to change for Cuadrado to re-discover his best self.
Should Allegri consider him playing more as a right-back?
Playing mostly as a right-midfielder under the guidance of Max Allegri, Juan Cuadrado may not have had a decent campaign so far, but he certainly he’s nonetheless enjoyed a couple of effective periods. In the game against Chelsea in the Champions League at Allianz Stadium, he was a right wing-back. Defensively, he was robust like a wall made of concrete that night.
Against Inter, he lined up in a similar position but got dominated by Inter’s Ivan Perisic in the first Derby d’Italia of the 2021/22 season. In the next game against Sassuolo, Mattia De Sciglio sustained a hamstring injury, meaning the current Juventus squad is short of an astute full-back option.
That said, Allegri could consider playing Juan Cuadrado as a right-back, to test the water in the absence of Mattia De Sciglio.
Nowadays, Juventus play two games every week. While Allegri has already indicated that he is not ready to put pressure on Alex Sandro’s body regularly and has no faith in Luca Pellegrini for the league matches at all, Juan Cuadrado could be a solution to Allegri’s dilemma, with Danilo playing as a left-back — a role the Brazilain would love to practice.
Perhaps the change in position is the impetus Juan Cuadrado requires at this moment of inconsistency.