‘Deteriorating for Weeks’: The Story Behind Joao Cancelo’s Abrupt Manchester City Exit

Joao Cancelo at a press conference announcing his signing with Bayern Munich

Bayern Munich have confirmed the loan signing of Manchester City fullback Joao Cancelo with a £61.6 million buy option at the end of the season. The Portuguese international, who only signed a new deal 12 months ago and was named in the PFA Team of the Year last season, departs the Premier League in the most surprising and unceremonious of circumstances.

How did Joao Cancelo and Pep Guardiola’s Relationship Collapse?

Increased Competition at Manchester City Kickstarted Joao Cancelo’s Exit

According to the Telegraph, relations between the two-time Premier League winner and his manager had been “deteriorating for weeks.” It was reported that the confrontation peaked when Cancelo realised he was not in the starting line-up for City’s FA Cup match against title-chasing Arsenal. 

This view was echoed by The Athletic, who revealed that the players’ bitterness began at Stamford Bridge on January 5, when he was replaced at half-time. He was deployed at right wing-back and failed to impact the game, and his replacement, 18-year-old Rico Lewis, was brought on for an impressive cameo. 

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It was then revealed that the 28-year-old was furious at being left out of City’s 4-2 comeback win over Spurs, with Guardiola again preferring the young and dynamic Lewis. The emergence of the City graduate has meant that Cancelo has only started three of the last 10 games. 

Then finally, his angry reaction to the Arsenal news meant that the City hierarchy sanctioned the move to the German juggernaut to conclude the Portuguese internationals sudden exit. 

Manchester City Lose One of Their Most Consistent and Skilful Performers

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Cancelo has been imperious since he solidified a place in Manchester City’s starting line-up two seasons ago. He made 36 appearances in the league last season and was described as “right up there with the best in the world” by Paul Dickov. 

Due to the competition at City that has seen Lewis, as well as centre-backs Nathan Ake and John Stones, be shuffled to full-back, he has found his minutes drastically reduced recently.

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It was revealed by The Athletic that Cancelo is largely seen as a passionate and motivated footballer, who acts despondently when he is not awarded adequate game time. Guardiola’s strict emphasis on the team over an individual has meant that the defenders’ complaints fell upon deaf ears. 

Bayern Munich Pick Up a Phenomenal Right Back

The German champions have drawn their last three Bundesliga games and only three points seperate the Bavarians and fifth-placed Freiburg. Julian Nagelsmann has been unable to find a reliable right back in this campaign, as Noussair Mazraoui and Benjamin Pavard have struggled with injury and form respectively. They have also been long-term admirers of their newest arrival so his addition will be a massive boost for a side relentlessly chasing their 11th consecutive league title.

Under UEFA rules, Cancelo is still able to play City in the Champions League if the two sides collide in the knockout stages. Bayern will face Paris Saint-Germain in the round of 16, whilst City will tussle with RB Leipzig.