Marc Cucurella is a 21 year old left sided player on loan at Getafe from Barcelona. Getafe sit 5th in the league, a point off of 3rd. They also knocked out Ajax to reach the next knockout round of the Europa League.
Cucurella is a Spanish youth international and spent last season on loan at Eibar, a team punching above their weight for the last few seasons in La Liga. Getafe have a very low option to buy clause with the loan of €6m. Eibar officially bought him after his loan with him for €2m but then Barcelona were able to buy him back for €4m.
José Bordalás’ Getafe are one of my favourite sides in Europe this season. His side aren’t to everyone’s taste though and play a rare brand of football. It has high energy pressing but they don’t care about possession. Their football is played at the fastest possible pace and take constant risks. They have the 3rd lowest possession in La Liga, the worst disciplinary record and the lowest passing accuracy.
He came through as a left back but both Eibar and Getafe tend to use full backs as wide midfielders in their 4–4–2 formations and therefore he’s mainly played on the left side of midfield for the last two seasons. But he can be used as a left back and offers versatility.
In his Barcelona contract he’s meant to have a £21m release clause which many of Europe’s biggest clubs are looking to meet and fight for his signature. Those include Chelsea, Spurs, Arsenal, Napoli, Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Monchengladbach. So, why is Cucurella so sought after?
Statistically, Cucurella isn’t a remarkable player overall but has some standout stats. Below you can see his numbers in both the full back and winger templates. For a full back he has a good number of tackles and contributes to the attack well. For a winger, he’s in the 94th percentile for recoveries which shows his excellent pressing ability.
He’s an excellent presser of the ball, which will be his main attraction to the clubs chasing him, along with his athletic profile. He’s energetic and extremely hard working, maintaining that high intensity throughout the match displaying good stamina. He’s a great athlete with an average build and standing 5’8″. He’s very agile with fast feet, great acceleration and change of pace as well as overall top speed. This helps his aggressive pressing and allows him to really trouble the opposition, regularly winning the ball in high areas of the pitch. His explosiveness also helped when making interceptions and springing counter attacks.
Defending 1v1 he was good at getting tight to his man, he was an aggressive defender who pressed his man and had goo footwork to stay with him. He didn’t sit of and wanted to get stuck in and win the ball as quickly as possible.
He’s a decent technical player with a good first touch and passing. The Spanish youngster is good at carrying the ball into space at speed and progressing the ball on counter attacks but doesn’t attempt to take on players 1v1, completing just 0.82 dribbles /90 this season. But he relies on his pace rather than tight ball control and skill to dribble with the ball. Getafe as a team attempt the 4th fewest in the league. They play at such pace and tempo that unless they’re driving into space, they spend very little time on the ball and don’t attempt dribbles. But as you can see in his radar he doesn’t give the ball away, other than unsuccessful passes.
His passing is very low at 67%, which is above average for the Getafe side. But, this doesn’t make him a bad passer. His short passing game is fairly strong. He has good technique which puts topspin on the ball and results in smooth, crisp passing hit with good speed although the accuracy can be inconsistent at times. His short passing shows his La Masia training but he doesn’t play many progressive passes. Getafe always have runners behind the line and although he constantly tries dangerous (low probability) passes, but it only takes one to come off to win the game.
At times during the match he’ll come in narrow areas as the whole team are very horizontally compact. Either looking to press central areas or to receive between the lines and then push into space before trying a pass to one of the strikers making runs.
He links with the strikers well, often travelling down the wing before passing inside to the strikers feet and then making an under or overlapping run. In a more structured side that want to retain possession he’d have more options and able to utilise his short passing. Getafe play at such a high tempo that sometimes players force passes and rush play, hitting crosses or passes off balance. A few passes were hit behind his teammates which could have been better quality.
His crossing is inconsistent but can show some quality but enough often enough. Cucurella was stronger at the byline whereas earlier crosses could be overhit a bit or not hit with enough height. He tends to drive his crosses and use his laces rather than the inside of his boot and getting more underneath. He makes 1.5 key passes /90, 0.4 of which come from crosses. He mostly creates mostly from through passes and inside balls to teammates who can take long shots, creating 0.15 xA /90.
Playing for this Getafe side, you can see his commitment and work rate. He chases the ball relentlessly and being in this side will build your mental toughness and drive, setting him up for a successful future.
Cucurella is a great fit for this Getafe and their style of play. But, it would worry me that playing in a team like this (and Eibar who play in a similar way) cause bad habits that the teams I listed at the start wouldn’t want to carry over in terms of his passing and crossing as well as being in a fluid system where he doesn’t have to have much positioning discipline. It may not a big issue but it is something I’d consider when looking to sign him. However, as a La Masia graduate you’d hope he’d also have a good grasp of possession football.
It will be interesting to see where he plays his football next season and how he adapts to a new system. He’s only 21 with a great athletic profile as well as good ability to press and win possession high up the pitch. He’s contributed to 15.9% of Getafe’s expected goals adjusted for minutes and could improve quite a bit technically. He would likely have to adapt to quite a different system if he gets a move and could be a bit of a risk and you’d also have to decide whether you want to use him as a winger, full back or wing back. The reports I’ve read see him as a full back though.