Joao Cancelo set for summer transfer dilemma after latest Bayern Munich decision
The full back's future is up in the air again after Bayern Munich decision
Joao Cancelo of Manchester City is finding it just as difficult to get starts at Bayern Munich as he did at the Etihad.
Joao Cancelo has left Manchester City in search of a fresh start. He’s back at square one five weeks later.
Cancelo, who had been out of contention in both full-back positions at City since Christmas, chose to leave the Etihad on January 31 for Bayern Munich, effectively ending his up-and-down City career.
Cancelo had a good start in Germany, with two assists in his first two games and four starts in a row. Cancelo has settled into a familiar role within his new squad since being replaced at halftime against Paris Saint-Germain last month, and the PSG second leg this week felt like his post-World Cup woes were all summed up in 90 minutes.
The full-back was on the bench for the fourth consecutive game, despite reports that Bayern had already decided not to pay the £61 million option to buy Cancelo. Bayern was defending a 1-0 lead from the first leg and needed a strong defensive performance to advance to the Champions League quarter-finals.
Cancelo could only sit back and watch until the tie was effectively won, despite having played only a minor role in the first two legs. He came on after Bayern had gone two goals up on aggregate and the PSG fight appeared to be over. Nonetheless, he took advantage of their need to pile more men forward by driving from right-back into midfield and slipping in Serge Gnabry to ensure victory.
It was Cancelo’s third assist in seven games, with one assist every 114 minutes. When you compare that to his two goals and five assists for City this season, at a rate of one every 266 minutes, it’s difficult to doubt his attacking abilities. Cancelo’s offensive play and ability to play as a wing-back in Bayern’s back three system have already been praised by Julian Nagelsmann.
When it comes to being more defensive, Nagelsmann is the third manager this season to prefer others over Cancelo.
“I was particularly impressed by our generosity. We were able to win on points thanks to PSG “After the game, Nagelsmann praised the defender who has taken Cancelo’s place as the preferred right-sided defender.
“I’d also like to recognise Josip Stanisic, who has been outstanding. With our game plan, we were able to keep PSG under control and prevent them from developing their actions.
“The fact that Kylian Mbappe was unable to stand out proves that we were present. We noticed Lionel Messi frequently went low, and we were able to isolate Mbappe.”
In addition to Nagelsmann’s remarks, Bayern Sporting Director Hasan Salihamidzic hinted that Cancelo’s attitude, as well as defensive reliability, were factors in his dismissal.
“Joao hasn’t been training and playing like we expected recently,” he explained. “We keep in touch with him on a regular basis. I understand how he feels, but he is a great player who will help us in the future.”
Pep Guardiola and Fernando Santos have both dropped Cancelo for big games this season, preferring less experienced but more defensively solid players. Now, Salihamidzic appears to have confirmed reports that Cancelo’s application was deficient. And, if Cancelo moved to Bayern to play more, he has barely increased his playing time.
He played 302 of 720 minutes in City’s eight games before Cancelo left (41 per cent). Cancelo has played 344 minutes in Bayern’s eight games since signing (47 per cent). Cancelo was unused in four of the eight City games; at Bayern, he’s only been unused once, so he’s playing in more games, but he has yet to complete 90 minutes and faces as much competition as his parent club.
Cancelo’s appearance against PSG could serve as a useful reminder that he offers qualities in attack that few others do from a full-back position. However, it appears that Nagelsmann has seen what Guardiola did in terms of being more defensive, and has been unable to successfully integrate Cancelo into his system.
He has his typical defiant demeanour, as he did at City at the start of the season. Then, on Instagram, he posted a cryptic message about his’shine’ dimming. On Thursday, he tweeted, “No one will wait who was born to win.”
Cancelo’s confidence notwithstanding, any further delay would place him in an even more difficult situation. Getting back into Bayern’s lineup is critical not only for his success this season. It will also have ramifications for his future in the city.