Due to the cluster reducibility of multiquark operators, a strong interplay exists in tetraquarks between the compact structures, resulting from the direct confining forces acting on quarks and gluons, and the molecular structure, dominated by the mesonic clusters. This issue is studied within an effective field theory approach, where the compact tetraquark is treated as an elementary particle. The key ingredient of the analysis is provided by the primary coupling constant of the compact tetraquark to the two mesonic clusters, considered here in the framework of a scalar interaction. Under the influence of this coupling, an initially formed compact tetraquark bound state evolves towards a new structure, where a molecular configuration is also present. In the strong-coupling limit, the evolution may end with a shallow bound state of the molecular type. The strong-coupling regime is also favored by the large
properties of QCD. The interplay between compact and molecular structures may provide a natural explanation of the existence of many shallow bound states.
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