Chelsea have emerged from a week of complicated negotiations by signing the Colombia winger Juan Cuadrado from Fiorentina for a fee that could rise to £26.8m, the largest outlay by a Premier League club on this transfer deadline day.
Cuadrado’s arrival on a four-and-a-half-year contract was confirmed as the clock ticked towards Monday’s
11pm transfer deadline, with Mohamed Salah going the other way on a six-month loan as part of the deal.
Yet the signing was effectively financed by the £24m sale of André Schürrle to Wolfsburg after 18 months
at Stamford Bridge, a deal pushed through by the Bundesliga side just before the early evening cut-off in Germany.
Whereas the World Cup winner had become a bit-part player, making only five Premier League starts this season, Cuadrado will expect to play an integral part in a Chelsea team who lead the Premier League by five points and face a Champions League knockout tie with Paris Saint-Germain in two weeks’ time.
The 26-year-old is eligible to play in that competition and once clearance has been granted, should be involved
in the squad for Saturday’s trip to Aston Villa.
“First of all I am very happy and thankful for this opportunity I’ve been given,” said Cuadrado on Chelsea TV.
“This is a great club and, honestly, it is like a dream to join the Chelsea family and to know that the manager believes in me.
“The best part of this dream is knowing I am going to be part of such a big club. That is a huge motivation to perform well. I am a quick and positive player and I hope to show that out on the field and help all my team-mates.
It is amazing that I am going to be working with one of the best coaches anywhere in the world. I’m very proud to be playing for him. I think he will help me grow into a better player. We are a big club so we want to win important things.
Playing for this team, winning the league championship is the most important thing, I think. As for everything else, Chelsea have big players so we want to win big things.
I hope we can achieve a lot together.”
Cuadrado, who has 37 caps, had spent more than five years in Italy, with Udinese and on loan at Lecce before joining Fiorentina, and was a key player in Colombia’s fine showing in the 2014 World Cup.
He contributed four assists and scored against Japan during a run to the quarter-finals where Colombia lost 2-1 to Brazil. He will provide Chelsea with options in central attacking positions and from wide.
José Mourinho, whose agent Jorge Mendes played a part in smoothing the deal when the complicated negotiations had threatened to stall, pushed for his purchase.
Yet Chelsea could finalise a deal that
pushed English top-flight clubs’ spending in the window above £100m only once Schürrle’s exit had been confirmed.