Chelsea star Cucurella now Pochettino favourite after giving exit ‘green light’

Chelsea 2-2 Arsenal – Review

Chelsea is not the easiest club for players to resurrect their careers as patience usually wears thin, but Mauricio Pochettino’s management of Marc Cucurella proves Stamford Bridge is quickly becoming a place for redemption. Once jeered by the fans as the club languished in the bottom half of the table, the defender embodied everything about Pochettino’s ‘new Chelsea’ in the 2-2 draw against Arsenal on Sunday.

Cucurella arrived at Stamford Bridge in a £62million deal from Brighton as one of the first major deals brokered by Todd Boehly. He was then followed to west London by his boss Graham Potter, who succeeded Thomas Tuchel as head coach, but both struggled to make an impression in their first season at Chelsea.

The Spaniard lost his place in the team to Ben Chilwell and even when trialled in the back three, the 25-year-old failed to reproduce the same performances that caught the eye of Pep Guardiola in his debut season in England back in 2021-22.

It looked as if he was set to leave the club on loan in the summer transfer window as Chelsea desperately attempted to offload him to Saudi Arabian clubs, but the left-back wasn’t interested. He did, however, reportedly give the ‘green light’ to a loan switch to Manchester United on deadline day, only for the deal to fall through, and United signed Sergio Reguilon instead.

READ MORE Chelsea star Enzo Fernandez intervenes to break up Sterling and Palmer row[LATEST]

Cucurella has had to be patient in waiting for a chance to get minutes under his belt. But after holding crunch talks with Pochettino shortly after the transfer window shut, the Argentinian has found a place for the Barcelona academy product in his team.

“After, when the transfer window closed, we were talking in my office,” Pochettino told reporters earlier in October. “We were really clear about how I see and assess him and I listened to his feelings. Of course, it was a difficult time for him after he arrived from Brighton. It was tough, not only for him, but many, many players. That’s why we need to give confidence and trust in him.”

The Pochettino factor is already starting to take effect on Cucurella, who has gone from being left out of the squad for the first five matches of the season to becoming a useful member of the squad. His tackles are aggressive and carefully measured and there is a new-found aggression in his game that has resonated with the fans, who are slowly starting to warm to him.

  • Advert-free experience without interruptions.
  • Rocket-fast speedy loading pages.
  • Exclusive & Unlimited access to all our content.

Arteta shows true colours in Moises Caicedo interaction after fuming at star[WATCH]
Inside Chelsea’s plans to get Mudryk firing and Arsenal could be first victims[INSIGHT]
Chelsea turn heat up on Nicolas Jackson as door opens for Pochettino dream deal[TRANSFERS]

Cucurella has started all of their last three matches in the Premier League and even deputised at right-back while Reece James was out injured and Malo Gusto suspended.

Aside from one minor fault against Burnley, the Spaniard has improved with every game and looks like a player who Chelsea can rely on as the Premier League hurtles towards the busiest months of the campaign.

With Ben Chilwell out injured, it was no surprise to see Cucurella selected again ahead of Ian Maatsen and tasked with nullifying the tricky Bukayo Saka, he kept him relatively quiet as Chelsea held a two-goal lead. But Robert Sanchez’s howler allowed Declan Rice to get the Gunners back into the game before Leandro Trossard’s equalise shared the spoils.

Despite watching his side throw away two valuable points, Pochettino was keen to single out Cucurella’s efforts in limiting Saka’s influence. But the 51-year-old recognised the bigger picture, which is how he has worked tirelessly in a bid to resurrect his Chelsea career.

“When we arrived here three months ago, some players were in a position where they maybe stay or maybe go,” Pochettino said after the game. “I didn’t know the past, I can only choose the players that we believe can perform. Marc and the club decide to stay in the last transfer window.

“He is training really well, that is why he playing like today, against a very good player like Saka. That is him, he deserves the credit because in the last few months he has worked hard and was able to play on the right side. Yes, in this way, only what can happen is the team will be better.”

With Pochettino a strong ally in his corner and regular football now easier to come by, Cucurella’s path to Chelsea stardom – after a rocky start – is now back on track.

Source: Read Full Article