Brighton look set for another solid season in the Premier League, with another midtable finish. Graham Potter’s side continue to win praise for punching above their weight. Smart recruitment, headed up until this year by Technical Director Dan Ashworth, has been coupled with good coaching at the south coast outfit, to make sure that the Seagulls have been able to squeeze every drop of performance out of a squad assembled on a small budget.
Potter’s system relies on versatile players, giving him the freedom to tweak his side from game to game. Marc Cucurella, on the left, has been a key performer in this season’s side. No outfield player has played more league minutes for Brighton this season. Cucurella has played everywhere from left-sided centre-back to the left of midfield.
Having come through as a youngster at Barcelona, Cucurella never got much of a chance at the Catalan club. He was loaned to Eibar, where he impressed. He was bought by the club, but only briefly, with Barcelona activating an option in his contract to buy him back. He was then loaned to Getafe for the 2019-20 season, and the Madrid-based club made that move permanent in March 2020.
This time there was no return to Barcelona. Cucurella was fully registered as a Getafe player in the summer, and spent another year at the Spanish club. The Spaniard didn’t take long to gain admirers. His well-rounded game was a good fit for Getafe, and he continued to impress.
Brighton picked him up for an undisclosed fee in the summer of 2021, reportedly in the region of £15m. He slotted into Potter’s side almost immediately. With the English coach regularly changing the shape of his system, Cucurella’s positional versatility and ability to perform a number of roles has been perfect for Potter.
Cucurella is able to play as an attacking threat on the left. He’s a strong passer, able to find teammates in attacking positions, and carries the ball effectively. In addition, he handles the physical side of the game well, and he’s a very good one on one defender. He’s a good fit in a side looking to press, and he’s an intelligent player with a good understanding of the game.
Graham Potter took the time to discuss Cucurella’s importance to the side in early May. Speaking about the Spaniard, he said: “He’s been really important for us since he’s come here. A really infectious personality so the lads all love him. Great character and bubbly personality around the club and then on the pitch he brings energy and quality.”
“He’s grown up at Barcelona so he knows how to play football and now he’s desperate to have an impact in the Premier League and we are so happy with him,” Potter continued.
Cucurella is just one of a number of young players progressing well under Potter, with Alexis Mac Allister and Moisés Caiscedo playing important roles for Brighton. Steven Alzate looks another promising player to be integrated into the team, while Tariq Lamptey returned to the team in the second half of the season.
The future looks bright for Brighton, who will backed well by punters on any betting exchange next season. If Potter can continue the work he has done up until now, the Seagulls may find themselves looking at a European place.