Carlos Cuesta: Coaching prodigy who focuses on Arsenal individuals

Carlos Cuesta (centre) with Miguel Molina and Mikel Arteta

Carlos Cuesta (centre) with Miguel Molina and Mikel Arteta

CARLOS CUESTA is a 25-year-old who holds the Uefa Pro Licence, speaks six languages and already has Atletico Madrid, Juventus and Arsenal on a glittering CV.

His official title with the Gunners is assistant to manager Mikel Arteta (along with Steve Round, Albert Stuivenberg, Miguel Molina and Andreas Georgson) but he could more specifically be called their Individual Development Coach.

This is a big area of focus in football at the moment - which is why TGG held a full-day webinar on Individual Development, featuring Swansea manager Russell Martin, Southampton Director of Football Matt Crocker and former Sheffield United Individual Development Coach Rhys Carr.

There is a realisation that every player has different development needs and that their training and analysis should cater for this in a way that the traditional one-size-fits-all approach doesn't.

Cuesta works one-on-one with every member of Arsenal’s first-team squad and is able to communicate with them in their mother tongue, as he speaks English, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, French and Catalan.

His work usually takes place at the end of a day’s main training session.

Much of the work is unopposed or ‘passive’, with a focus on technical skills and tactical principles. This keeps physical loading low, allows repetition and was used heavily during Cuesta’s time at Italian giants Juventus (more of that later).

Each session is filmed, as is the rest of training as well as matches, and Cuesta does a lot of video analysis with each player.

The start of the journey is working out a player's individual identity - who they are and what they need - and this is holistic, taking into account their physical, mental, technical and tactical capabilities and requirements. This is why it's so important for Cuesta to plug into the wider staff and collaborate with the different subject matter experts to ensure a player's development needs are being met.

The Spaniard started his coaching badges at the age of 18, at the same time that he joined Atletico Madrid’s Academy as a coach. He went on to become their Under-13s lead and also spent time studying at Porto University with the legendary Vitor Frade, the godfather of tactical periodisation and a key influence on Jose Mourinho, among others.

In August 2018, when he was still only 22, Cuesta joined Juventus, having met one of the Turin team's coaches at the La Liga Promises tournament. The coach invited the Majorcan to Turin and he impressed the club’s directors so much during his time there that they offered him a permanent job.

During his two seasons at the Harvard of defending, Cuesta was predominantly U17s assistant but also worked with the U23s, who were coached at the time by Fabio Pecchio, now manager of Cremonese.

Shortly before joining Juve, Cuesta had conducted a study visit to Manchester City, which is how his eventual move to Arsenal came about. The young coach had sent City some in-depth analysis of their attacking play, resulting in them inviting him over to England.

In a subsequent interview with El Pais newspaper, Cuesta said that working with Arteta, who was assistant to City manager Pep Guardiola at the time, had been a particular highlight of the trip.

“He will be a great coach,” Cuesta said. “He was able to verify the importance of details in elite training sessions and game analysis.”

Arteta didn’t forget his compatriot, either. Last summer, at the start of his first full season as Arsenal boss and a day after winning the FA Cup, it was announced that Arteta was bringing in Cuesta as one of his new assistants, along with Molina and Georgson.

The move may have seemed left field to many, but to those in the know it wasn't, because Cuesta is one of the brightest coaching prospects in Europe and a manager in the making.

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