UEFA Nations League winner and Juventus defender João Cancelo is a strongly rumoured potential addition to Manchester City this summer as the Citizens look to achieve European success for the first time.
Despite Kyle Walker signing a new two-year contract extension last week, it is understood that Pep Guardiola is keen on providing some competition for the aging English right-back with Cancelo being the number one target.
The deal is understood to be close to completion, with a fee of around £50 million in the pipeline. Ahead of a potential first signing for Manchester City, 90MAAT look at who actually is Joao Cancelo and the attributes that he can bring to a team that has almost everything.
Who is João Cancelo?
Less than a year ago, Cancelo signed for Italian champions Juventus for £35 million and the 25-year-old is now in even higher demand. City’s rivals Manchester United have also shown some interest in signing the right-back but are believed to prefer a move for Crystal Palace’s Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
Since joining Juventus from Valencia, interest in Cancelo has increased due to his demonstrations of blistering pace and technical skill that has allowed him to play in areas further up the pitch than his usual position. The Portuguese has played right of the midfield and even right-wing over the last season, but his predominant spot on the pitch is as a full-back on the right-hand side.
Significantly, Cancelo was able to dribble past 72% of the defenders he came up against in Serie A last season – a higher average than Lionel Messi and both of his national teammates Cristiano Ronaldo and Bernardo Silva. The 25-year-old clearly has a whole arsenal of tricks up his sleeves and often uses them, along with his immense speed, to get himself and the ball up the field. Cancelo is also a strong crosser of the ball and getting into a crossing position is a constant priority for the Portuguese star.
Since he is such an attack-minded player, it’s easy to forget that Cancelo, being a defender, has defensive duties to cater to. However, he doesn’t fall short in this category either and is usually eager to risk giving away a foul to try and retain possession for his side.
What could he do for Manchester City?
The aforementioned contract extension for Kyle Walker means that Cancelo would certainly not drift into Manchester City’s starting XI without having to earn his place. Walker has made a solid name for himself at City and provides pace and attacking momentum down the right-hand side on his own.
But although Walker and Cancelo are similar players in that respect, Cancelo would bring a little more to the table with his dribbling ability, rather than just sheer pace. His passing and crossing ability would be perfect for the Man City team too and the ease at which he can traverse the pitch could be facilitated by Pep Guardiola’s preferred style of play.
If there is a general area that could be improved at City, it’s their defence. 23 goals conceded in 38 matches is an excellent record by all accounts, but it’s fair to say that it’s probably easier to reduce this than to squeeze out any more goals than they managed last season. Cancelo’s tackling ability and concentration means that defensive errors are rare – and Guardiola will like this a lot.
Guardiola has introduced a host of full-backs to the team since he joined the club – Benjamin Mendy, Kyle Walker and Oleksandr Zinchenko for example and he is now set to add another with Cancelo. Hopefully for Pep’s sake they will have a bit more luck with regards to injuries with Cancelo and hopefully, he will be a part of the extra they need to bring European glory to the Etihad.