On a day which has traditionally seen huge amounts of money spent by Premier League clubs, Chelsea’s deal for Cuadrado — along with the €28m sale of Schurrle to German side Wolfsburg — were comfortably the biggest deals on show as Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool all opted not to join the spending spree.
City, already being punished for breaking FFP rules last season, had of course spent their money earlier in the window — €37m of it — by bringing in Wilfried Bony from Swansea; and Ireland legend Niall Quinn, who played more than 200 games for City, was not only unruffled by his former club’s lack of deadline day action but suggests the arrival of Bony was the single most important deal of the window.
Quinn, now an analyst for Sky, said: “I wasn’t worried that City didn’t buy anyone on deadline day — they have a fine squad as it is. I’m glad they haven’t left players go, and they have strengthened with Bony. He’s a great signing for them. They have come unstuck so many times this season trying to break defences down. But he can get it and hold it more dangerous areas than someone like Dzeko. I’m pleased with that bit of business, I’m sure the fans are too. He’s doing really in the African Nations Cup and he’ll come back as a player in form.
“So I think it’s been a good window for City overall. It’s been good for Chelsea too, but I’m not so sure Chelsea needed Cuadrado as much as City need Bony. That’s the way I see it. Bony has the makings of the one that can really make the difference. They now have a different option and a different way of playing if they need it. For Cuadrado it’s going to be a hell of a job to get into the team at Chelsea. He won’t just go in there straight away.”
Statistics show the amount spent in the entire window — more than €140m — was still a record even if the list of names was rather less glamorous than usual. But Colombian star Cuadrado, who starred in the World Cup in Brazil, was certainly the pick of the late arrivals — claiming he was tempted to London by the prospect of working with Jose Mourinho.
“I’m very thankful and happy for this opportunity,” he said. This is a great club, it’s like a dream to join the Chelsea family and to know the manager believes in me. The best part of this dream is that I’m going to be part of such a big club, and that’s a huge motivation to perform.
“I’m a quick and positive player and I hope to show that on the field. It’s going to be brilliant to work with one of the best coaches anywhere in the world. I’m very proud to play for him — I think he’s going to help me grow into a better player.”
Cuadrado has 37 caps and five goals for his country and has played in Italy for five and a half years, initially joining Udinese in 2009 before also turning out for Lecce and Fiorentina.
Fiorentina coach Vincenzo Montella expects him to be a success in England, saying: “Cuadrado is a player that has always arrived with a smile and has given everything to Fiorentina — I’m happy for him because he is going to a big club.”
Chelsea winger Mo Salah, who has made just 19 appearances since joining the club from Basel in January 2014, heads to Florence on loan as part of the deal, another indication that Roman Abramovich is being more careful about his finances these days.
As for the other members of the big six, Liverpool had always made it clear they did not expect to do big business in January — despite persistent rumours they wanted to sign Danny Ings from Burnley and allow Ricky Lambert to leave for Aston Villa.
And up the road at United, all the talk was around players leaving rather than arriving — with Crystal Palace snapping up their former winger Wilfried Zaha in a cut price deal, and Darren Fletcher’s future in doubt right to the end of the window as he headed to West Brom.
Tottenham, too, remained quiet, although Aaron Lennon looked to be heading to Everton as the deadline loomed and Emmanuel Adebayor turned down a move to QPR but remained a target for West Ham.
Overall it was a window surprisingly short on big moves. But Chelsea and City — first and second in the Premier League — did enough to ensure they will remain the clubs to beat.