Transfer Talk: In-demand Cucurella could be in line for a Pep talk
Manchester City are in the market for a left-back — and Marc Cucurella could be the man for the job.
The Brighton star enjoyed a sensational debut Premier League campaign after moving to the South Coast from Getafe last summer.
His performances at the Amex Stadium have caught the eye of Pep Guardiola, who is reportedly keen to recruit the £50million-rated defender.
We look at why a move to Manchester could be on the cards for the Spain international.
Remarkably, there are no natural left-backs in Manchester City's squad.
Joao Cancelo was outstanding in that position last season — but he is a right-footer who has spent much of his career operating on the opposite flank.
Likewise, Oleksandr Zinchenko is a converted midfielder, while occasional stop-gap Nathan Ake is a central defender by trade.
The Citizens will be keen to add an out-and-out left-back to their armoury.
A versatile operator
Cucurella's versatility will appeal to Guardiola, who challenges his players — particularly full-backs — to operate in unfamiliar areas of the pitch.
That will be nothing new to the 23-year-old, who has learned to play at centre-back under tinkerman tactician Graham Potter at Brighton.
The Catalan native explained that experience when speaking last month.
He said: "I played there [on the left of a back three] for one or two games in my life before I came here — only for the last minutes, not starting games.
"The first game at centre-back was Chelsea away. I was very nervous because I've never played in this position.
"Chelsea play with [Romelu] Lukaku and top players, but I played really well in that game.
"The gaffer has given me a lot of opportunities there. He asked me if I'm comfortable in that position. I like it, it's good for me, learning to play in a new position, and for the team as well."
The right profile
Guardiola is looking for an understudy to Cancelo — and Cucurella mirrors many of the Portuguese's qualities.
For starters, both are high-energy operators who spend a significant proportion of their time in the opposition half.
Though City's No27 outperforms the Brighton man in most key attacking metrics, that is perhaps to be expected when he plays for a markedly better side.
Nonetheless, Cucurella completed 0.84 crosses per 90 minutes last term, as well 15.46 passes into the final third.
The one-cap international will surely post even better numbers if he is playing for the Citizens in 2022-23.
Ready to step up
Few would have expected Cucurella to be set for a move to one of England's elite clubs after just one season of Premier League football.
But the 5ft 8in left-back is ready to grasp any opportunity that comes his way with both hands.
Speaking about the link to Manchester City last month, he said: "The goal [at Brighton] was to develop so the big clubs can take notice.
"But if the opportunity arises, you have to take advantage of it. There are teams that you can't say no to.
"No, sincerely no [Guardiola has not called]. Of course, there are rumours.
"If people are talking like this about you, it's a good thing. We're calm. The most important thing right now is to rest."
Having graduated from Barcelona's La Masia and played for the Catalans' B team, a reunion with Blaugrana legend Guardiola would be hard to resist.
Time to splash the cash
Signing Cucurella will not come cheap, with Brighton in a strong bargaining position.
The Seagulls' No3 has four years remaining on a contract that runs until June 2026 — and the South Coast side have no desire to sell him this summer.
However, Potter's outfit would be unlikely to turn down a bid in excess of £50m, so City will need to splash the cash if they are to secure their first-choice defensive target ahead of next season.