Pekerman lauds Cuadrado
Juan Cuadrado (AFP)
Brasilia - Colombia winger Juan Cuadrado is good enough to play for Barcelona, his national team coach Jose Pekerman said Wednesday.
Fresh from a stunning season with Fiorentina, in which he scored 11 goals, Cuadrado has reportedly been attracting the attention of some of Europe's big guns such as Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain and notably Barcelona.
According to some Colombian media, Cuadrado is on the verge of a move to the Catalan giants to replace Brazilian wing-back Dani Alves.
And should that move come off, Argentine Pekerman is sure the 26-year-old would be a success.
"He's a player with great physical conditioning who achieved great things with his club, just as he has done with his country, and he is ready to go to a great club, regardless of how well he does at the World Cup," said Pekerman.
"It's satisfying to have him with Colombia and for sure he will go on to grace the most important pitches in football, and more if he goes to a great club like Barca."
The dreadlocked dribbler started his career at Independiente Medellin before heading to Italy and Udinese in 2009 at 21 years of age.
He struggled for first team football there but really came of age in a one year loan spell at little Lecce in 2011/12, earning a move to La Viola at the end of that season.
Colombia are preparing in Brasilia for their Group C match against Ivory Coast in the Mane Garrincha stadium on Thursday.
Having won their opening match 3-0 against Greece, Colombia could all but secure their place in the knock-out rounds with a victory over the Elephants.
Ivory Coast also began with a win, 2-1 over Japan, and Pekerman considers them potential World Cup winners.
"We're going to play very experienced opponents, a true World Cup rival who have come to win, who will create difficulties for us and for that reason it will be a tough match. They're going to make life very uncomfortable for us," said Pekerman.
"They know we'll be keeping an eye on certain of their players and beating them will depend on our players' inspiration and the collective strength of a team showing it is ready to fight for qualification to the last 16."
Asked to identify the Africans' primary weapons, Pekerman didn't seem to know where to stop.
"Everyone knows the abilities of (Didier) Drogba, Gervinho, Yaya Toure.
"They have an excellent full-back in Serge Aurier, who (helped) score both goals against Japan, and the experience of Didier Zokora, who has gone from a central midfieder to bringing calm to the team's defence."