Arc Cucurella’s impending transfer to Chelsea has raised many questions – including where will he play?
The attacking full-back could soon find himself in competition with Ben Chilwell, with the Blues in talks over a £50m deal to sign him from Brighton.
While there are no doubts about his quality, there are concerns over Cucurella’s place at Chelsea.
The equation will be complex to solve for Thomas Tuchel but, a few days before the start of the new season, he is keen to add as much quality as possible after having missed several objectives.
The need for a centre-back has long been a priority for Chelsea, but they have tried and failed to sign Matthias de Ligt, Nathan Ake, Presnel Kimpembe and Jules Kounde.
A new winger was also on the agenda, but two new centre-backs were given priority after the club lost Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen on free transfers.
Despite being just 5ft 6in tall, Cucurella played at centre-back in a back three at Brighton. Similarly, Chilwell played there at Leicester under Brendan Rodgers.
This would provide an, albeit imperfect, option for Tuchel to bring the two players together on the pitch. The problem is that it would negate one of the Premier League’s two best attacking full-backs, undermining the attributes that persuaded Chelsea to spend £50million on them both.
Tuchel is also keen to move to a back four when he needs it next season, and he could do so when Chilwell and Cucurella are in the squad.
In the 4-0 pre-season loss to Arsenal last month, Chelsea started in a 4-4-2 formation and could do the same with Chilwell or Cucurella left in midfield.
They could also swing one of the two to the right in a 3-4-3, pushing Reece James back to centre-back and using one of the left feet as an inverted full-back.
Tuchel did the same in reverse last season, using James on the left when he felt the tactical need or when injuries hit the team.
Cucurella and Chilwell will need to be versatile to help Chelsea achieve their goals as they experiment with new formations after a bizarre transfer window.
There are still uncertainties surrounding the transfers to Stamford Bridge. Chelsea are still keen to sign more defenders, with Leicester City’s Wesley Fofana and RB Leipzig’s Josko Gvardiol on the agenda.
They also need to sell players, with the future of Fulham target Malang Sarr, Barcelona target Marcos Alonso and Emerson Palmieri all uncertain.
Chelsea have just under a month to find balance on and off the pitch.
Tuchel and new owners Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital are set to have a busy month with Chelsea expected to be one of the busiest clubs in the transfer market by the time the transfer window closes on September 1.