Despite first arriving in Italy with Udinese, it was with the Viola that Cuadrado built his reputation as one of the most exciting wingers in European football, and he cemented that position during the World Cup. Excelling in the Colmbia side who performed so well, the 26-year-old was a key attacking force, and his performances drew interest from a host of top clubs.
Bleacher Report referenced interest from Barcelona and Manchester United over the summer, but Cuadrado remained with Fiorentina, only to see Chelsea sign him on deadline day of the January transfer window.
Signed to make up for the loss of Andre Schurrle to Wolfsburg, Cuadrado arrived in exchange for Mohamed Salah - who was sent to Fiorentina on loan - and statistically he is hardly an upgrade on the German World Cup winner.
Both predominately right-footed right-wingers, Schurrle and Cuadrado seem to offer the same sort of output as attacking players. This season, the German has five goals and no assists from 22 games, whereas the new Blues signing has six goals and three assists in 23 games - a slightly better return, although playing in a weaker league.
It could be suggested that signing him was a needless exercise if Schurrle was kept at Stamford Bridge, but it is Cuadrado’s style of play that actually makes him tactically different from every other play in the Chelsea ranks.
Although able to feature on the left and in the centre of an attacking three, with a strong ability to cut onto his right foot and score from outside the area, Cuadrado represents the kind of player currently missing in elite level football - the classic out-and-out winger.
Prefering to stay in an outside right position, the Colombian will add natural width to a side who usually play with attackers who drift into the centre of the field. The current preference for inside forwards who cut onto their stronger foot to play as inverted wingers has created the need for attacking full-backs, and, although Branislav Ivanovic is adept at that role, he causes a number of defensive problems with his forward runs.
With Cuadrado in the side, Ivanovic will have no need to run forward to add width, as the Colombian international will provide that role in his natural attacking position. He adds both forward creativity to a one-dimensional attack, and defensive stability by restricting Ivanovic to his one main role.
The signing of Cuadrado has added a new variation to the Blues attack, and has been done without spending needlessly. Having removed both Schurrle and Salah from the playing squad, Chelsea have replaced the two similar wingers with a new type of player who adds something to the first-team that has been lacking for a number of years - natural width.