Cucurella joined Barca’s U16 academy from Espanyol in 2012. Progressing through the ranks, he ultimately made his first-team debut in July 2017, against Real Murcia in a Copa del Rey round-of-32 fixture.
It turned out to be his only first-team appearance for Barca, with him spending the next three seasons out on loan to Eibar and Getafe, respectively.
The Spaniard left Barcelona permanently in 2020, joining Getafe for an €11 million fee. Looking back, the Chelsea left-back has called it the best decision of his career. Speaking to Football.London, he said:
“Of course, it’s difficult because in my case, I had always stayed in Barcelona, my family is always here. It’s difficult to change to another city, another club, and the style is different.”
“I understood I needed to go one step down to play a lot of minutes and play well. I think it was a long time – maybe four or five years – I stayed at maybe not the biggest clubs. But in my mind, I always focused on playing, and maybe one day I would have the opportunity [to sign with a big club].”
“I think maybe one of the best decisions in my life was leaving Barcelona to join maybe smaller teams. They give me opportunities. Maybe if I didn’t leave, I would have stayed on the bench for a long time and I never come here [to Chelsea].”
Having spent a season at Getafe, Cucurella signed for Premier League outfit Brighton & Hove Albion in the summer of 2021 for an €18 million fee. Joining Chelsea from the Seagulls in a €65.3 million (including add-ons) deal earlier in August, Cucurella has become the most expensive left-back of all time.
Former Barcelona star Cucurella recalls nervy Premier League start
Cucurella enjoyed a stellar 2021-22 campaign at Brighton, emerging as one of the standout left-backs in the Premier League. He featured in 35 Premier League games last term, recording a goal and an assist.
Looking back, Cucurella has attributed his success to Brighton coach Graham Potter, who kept faith in him despite his sub-par debut performance. The 24-year-old defender revealed:
“I remember my first game [Premier League]: Brentford away. When I finished the game, I was very frustrated. The team won but I didn’t play well and I thought I had maybe lost an opportunity. The next week I thought I’d start on the bench because we played against Leicester, a big club, but the gaffer gave me again the opportunity and I think this is the key for me.”
“I remember this game: we won 2-1 and I played really really good. This is maybe the moment that changed me or my life because maybe if the coach put me on the bench, maybe I lose my confidence and I never play to this level.”