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Marc Cucurella Scout Report: Why does Ten Hag want the Chelsea outcast?

(Photo by Chris Lee – Chelsea FC/Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

Chelsea outcast Marc Cucurella has been linked with a move to Old Trafford in response to Manchester United’s injury crisis. With both Tyrell Malacia and Luke Shaw sidelined United are keen on signing a new left-back, likely on loan, before the transfer window shuts on September 1.

Date of Birth: 22/07/1998 (25)
Position: Left-Back
Strong Foot: Left
Height: 1.73m (5ft 8in)

Who is Marc Cucurella?

Cucurella established himself as one of the exciting left-backs in the Premier League during his time at Brighton and Hove Albion. Because of his impressive performance for the Seagulls, the Spanish defender attracted interest from Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. However, the deal didn’t go through and Cucurella made a move to Stamford Bridge, as Chelsea agreed to pay a fee in the region of £62m to sign the ex-Barcelona and Getafe defender. While many had high expectations for Cucurella when he moved to Chelsea, the La Masia graduate has struggled to find his best form since moving to West London.

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According to Fabrizio Romano, United have reached an agreement in principle with Cucurella over personal terms. Chelsea are said to be open to letting the defender leave on loan, as long as an agreement that suits them can be found over a loan fee and how his salary will be covered. Various reports suggest Tottenham’s Sergio Reguilon and Barcelona’s Marcos Alonso are also on United’s left-back shortlist, but it seems that Cucurella is the preferred option.


One of Cucurella’s biggest strengths is his ability on the ball. He is technically sound and is capable of progressing the ball up the pitch, either through passing or carrying. During the 2021/22 Premier League season, when Cucurella played for Brighton, the Spanish defender averaged 5.56 progressive passes per 90 and 3.03 progressive carries per 90.

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The former Brighton player is also very good defensively and is an impressive tackler. In the 2021/22 season, Cucurella averaged 2.71 tackles per 90 and also 7.2 ball recoveries per 90 in that season. In addition to that, Cucurella also won 61% of his ground duels in that season.


Cucurella’s biggest weakness is arguably his ability in the final third and he isn’t very creative either. Over the 2021/22 and 2022/23 Premier League seasons, Cucurella created a total of 5 big chances and registered 3 assists. In comparison, over the same 2 seasons, Luke Shaw created 12 big chances and registered 5 assists. Cucurella also isn’t the most dominant player aerially.

Where would Cucurella fit in at Manchester United?

While there are some obvious shortcomings in Cucurella’s game, he has some qualities that will add a lot to this United side, especially in the absence of Shaw. Cucurella is very good on the ball and is progressive. Whichever left-back United sign needs to have that ability, as Luke Shaw is one of United’s better technical players and also a key ball progressor.

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Should Cucurella join United, he’d slot in at left-back for the foreseeable future. So far this season, Ten Hag has typically used a 3-2 build-up structure. Against Nottingham Forest, we saw Diogo Dalot inverting, and should Cucurella make the move to Old Trafford he’d likely do the same. In possession, Cucurella will invert into midfield to play next to Casemiro, with Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Raphaël Varane and Lisandro Martinez forming the three. Playing this role will mean that Cucurella won’t have too much responsibility in the final third, which is good as he doesn’t thrive there. As mentioned above, Cucurella is also very solid defensively so there isn’t too much to worry about in that regard.

Once Shaw and Malacia both return from injury, it’s likely that Cucurella will not have much involvement for the rest of the season. Shaw has established himself as one of the best left-backs in Europe and Malacia impressed in his debut season, despite the former Feyenoord defender having not ended it in great form. There is, of course, a chance that Cucurella could get back to his best if he makes the move to United. If he does, United will have a big decision to make. Ideally, a short-term loan till January with the option to extend it till the summer would be good. 


Considering the circumstances, Cucurella wouldn’t be a bad signing on loan. He has endured a difficult period since joining Chelsea, but there is no doubt he has quality. Only last summer, Pep Guardiola and Manchester City were very keen on bringing the Spaniard to the blue side of Manchester. While Cucurella isn’t as good as Shaw, he would be a very good player if he can rediscover the form he had at Brighton.

Should United fail to find an agreement with Chelsea over a deal, it’s likely they’ll turn their attention to either Marcos Alonso or Sergio Reguilon. However, the interest in Alonso seems to be more concrete. Should United fail to sign a left-back, then it’d likely mean Dalot would play there a lot, and youngster Alvaro Fernandez would then also have to play a significant role. If United do indeed sign a left-back though, then Alvaro Fernandez will likely leave on loan, with the former Real Madrid player having attracted interest from Granada.

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