Joao Cancelo has slipped down the pecking order at Manchester City which has cast doubt over his future despite the player making his happiness known at the Etihad two months ago
Joao Cancelo has previously made it clear he sees himself at Manchester City for the long-term despite rumours swirling about a possible exit.
The full-back has established himself as a leading light at the Etihad following his switch from Juventus back in 2019. The Portuguese star has helped City win successive league titles and earned individual accolades en route, being named in the Team of the Year twice on the spin.
However he’s lost his role as a starter since returning from the World Cup which has cast doubt over his future. The likes of Nathan Ake and Rico Lewis have been deployed on the flanks, which has limited Cancelo’s game time in recent weeks.
As a result there is mounting interest from teams in France, Spain, Italy and Germany – who are continuing to track the situation, reports the Telegraph. Cancelo did recently pen a new deal, which keeps him in Manchester until 2027 whilst he was also handed the No 7 shirt.
He was restored to the starting XI for the win over Chelsea last week at Stamford Bridge. However Pep Guardiola opted to take him off at half-time with Lewis coming on to replace him and the full-back was again restored to the line-up for a surprise defeat to Southampton, a performance that has copped criticism.
The reverse could see Guardiola rejig his XI for the crunch Manchester derby at Old Trafford on Saturday, with Cancelo potentially making way. That will only serve to heighten speculation regarding his future, but the former Juventus man stated that he sees Manchester as the best place he can be as recently as November.
“Manchester City was the most important step I took in my career. Of course, I’ve been in big clubs such as Benfica, Valencia, Inter, Juventus. But I think that, right now, Manchester City is in another level,” he told the club magazine.
“I decided to come here, but of course, the first six months weren’t very good. I needed a period to adapt. But now I’m much more integrated here and I hope to stay many more years, because here is where I feel good.”
Cancelo has previously earned huge plaudits but Guardiola has been known to take players out of the line-up for a period. John Stones’ future once looked bleak before he upped his level, Aymeric Laporte spent prolonged time on the bench and Riyad Mahrez also had his future questioned when his minutes dropped.
Cancelo cut a visibly frustrated figure when he was taken off at Chelsea, and Guardiola has underlined that the demeanour of his players is a key factor in making selection calls.
He recently said: “I look at the body language in the training sessions and everything. You cannot play good when the body language is not correct. Sometimes I pick them for the body language, for how happy they look and how they are there. This is one of my main decisions when I choose the lineup.”
The City boss, who has a wealth of options at his disposal, must get his time firing on all cylinders if they are to chase down Arsenal in the title race and finally claimed their much coveted Champions League. They are five points off the Gunners and know they have little margin for error.
“There’s no room for any mistakes, or for any poor performances,” said Ilkay Gundogan after the defeat to Southampton. “Hopefully, if there is something good we can take out of this [Southampton] game, it was something like a wake-up call at the right time.
“Even though it is sad and disappointing to be out of this cup, hopefully, at the end, in a few weeks we can at least look back and take something good out of this game.”