Can Joao Cancelo play himself back into the first-team set up for Manchester City?
The Portuguese full-back has returned to the club for pre-season after his loan spell at Bayern Munich in the second half of last season. Cancelo left the club in somewhat controversial circumstances. He was unhappy with his playing time at the champions, and reports of a bust-up with Pep Guardiola surfaced after his surprise loan move to the German champions.
Talent has never been the issue with Joao Cancelo. When he is on his game, he is one of the premier full backs in the Premier League. The question surrounds how he handles not being selected, and his reaction to it. By his own admission the defender prefers to play as much as possible.
With Pep Guardiola shifting away from traditional full-backs to a preference of three center-backs at the back end of last season, there may not be a role in the squad for Cancelo. But he has reported back for pre-season, and the signs in the second half when he played against Yokohama F.Marinos were encouraging.
Cancelo slotted in on the right side of defense when introduced at half time. The Portuguese defender showed his remarkable technical ability as he bombed forward on City’s right-hand side. He showed some clever link up play with Oscar Bobb at times. Cancelo also drifted centrally into midfield showing he may be able to adapt to Pep’s tactical set up.
He also provided a delightful assist for Erling Haaland to tap in to add City’s fifth in the 5-3 win.
— City Xtra (@City_Xtra) July 23, 2023
The talent isn’t the question with Cancelo. If he can keep his head down and do the work this preseason, he may play his way back into Pep Guardiola’s plans this season.