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Cancelo and Pep’s ‘clash’ – Should he stay or should he go now?

Updated: Jul 24, 2023

Speaking to the media on City’s pre-season tour in Japan Pep Guardiola was asked about Joao Cancelo: “He is here. Joao has been so important for us in the past. After the loan at Bayern he is back here and is part of the group. Like I said to your colleagues, we will see what happens…” The question is does Cancelo have any realistic prospect of getting his career at the Etihad back on track? Was it just Pep being diplomatic or is the Spaniard prepared to forgive, if not forget?


Will Pep countenance having Cancelo back?

Even if City want to sell the player, Guardiola is hardly likely to be overly critical in public. It would only serve to drive down any prospective transfer fee.


But what transfer fee? There’s hardly a queue of potential suitors, apart from the crooks of Catalonia, and only then would Barcelona want him on loan or a free transfer. With Pep seemingly preferring a defence comprising 3 or 4 centre backs - take your pick from Dias, Stones, Ake, Akanji, Laporte and seemingly, Gvardiol - you wonder how Cancelo would fit in.


Puzzling! Would Cancelo fit an attacking role at City?

When he made his shock loan move to Bayern Munich at the end of the January transfer window, the Portuguese defender insisted the switch was not down to his relationship with Guardiola, refusing to rule out a return to the club.


There are those within the club who would beg to differ.


Happy Days - Cancelo was integral to consecutive PL titles.

Cancelo's inability to hide his displeasure at not being picked for matches did not sit well with Pep or indeed a number of senior first team players. It’s unusual, to say the least, that an experienced player goes out of the door in the last knockings of a transfer window, without even so much as a loan fee.


It would be futile to protest that nothing was awry, but that’s the public stance of both club and player.


Cancelo enters the fray during City's 3-0 demolition of Bayern in the Champions League.

Cancelo made all the right noises upon his arrival in Munich.


Cancelo's 'dream' move lasted just 5 months.

"My decision to leave City was only based on the lack of minutes. There was speculation that my relationship to Pep Guardiola was not the best, but the fact is that I just wanted to play more and now I have the opportunity and a dream came true.”


Bernardo's shirt was the only thing Cancelo took away from Bayern's visit to City.

Cancelo was followed into Bayern by Thomas Tuchel who replaced Julian Nagelsmann as Head Coach. Tuchel had been Chelsea’s manager when they beat City 1-0 in the Champions League Final in Porto in 2021.


Bigging up his new manager Cancelo said: “Tuchel made me lose a Champions League Final, so I hope he will win it for me this year.


As we all know that didn’t turn out too well for the perennial Bundesliga champions.


Cancelo was booed by City fans at the Etihad.

City demolished them 3-0 at the Etihad, with a section of the crowd booing Cancelo when he entered the fray as a second half substitute, and continuing to boo his every touch of the ball. A 1-1 draw in the second leg at the Allianz Arena dispatched the Germans 4-1 on aggregate.


Cancelo was a Bundesliga champion with Bayern.

Cancelo was part of Bayern’s Bundesliga winning team, but he was by no means a regular fixture in the first team, hence there was no chance of Munich taking up a £61.5m option to buy the problematic Portugal international.


As far as his ‘dream’ coming true, the five-month loan in Bavaria was far from it, although neither was it a nightmare.


Jubilant in June but no sign of Joao.

One wonders what he was thinking as City beat Inter Milan 1-0 in Istanbul to finally lift the Champions League trophy?


Nobody doubts Cancelo’s ability – the problem lies with his attitude. Always more adept in an attacking, rather than defending mode, could Cancelo conceivably be reintegrated into the squad as a wide midfielder?


With Mahrez going to Saudi is there a squad place available for Cancelo?

Does the imminent departure of Mahrez offer a route into any meaningful game time? He could conceivably already have burnt his bridges in Pep’s eyes and the pre-season is just a chance to put him in the shop window? Only time will tell.


Will Cancelo swallow his pride and find a way to stay at City?

He put in a decent second half performance against Yokohama F. Marinos in Japan today - including a skilful assist for Erling Haaland - in front of a 61,000+ crowd, so never say never. If – and it’s a very big ‘if’ – Pep and Cancelo can sort it out, there may yet be a third, and more harmonious option, other than the lyrics of a classic song by The Clash:

‘Should I stay or should I go now? Should I stay or should I go now? If I go, there will be trouble And if I stay it will be double So come on and let me know’


Should he stay or should he go? Pep will decide.

Failing that – and if rumours of Mikel Arteta and Arsenal’s interest in Cancelo come to fruition – it could be a case of ‘London Calling’.


By David Walker


Twitter @ReadButNeverRed @djwskyblu

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10 Comments


tracie465
tracie465
Jul 24, 2023

Thanks for another great read .... and now I can't get that song out of my head!!!!!! He is quality...........personally I'd love him to give his head a wobble and stay 💙

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Unknown member
Jul 24, 2023
Replying to

Thank you. I think there’s a big division among the City fan base on Cancelo. He’s a very good player. Sadly he doesn’t appear to be a ‘team’ player in the manner expected by Pep.


Whether he’s learned any degree of humility over the past 6 months remains to be seen.


Everything depends on whether Pep sees him as an asset or a liability? He still has 4 years on his deal - surprising, given that he’s 29.


Unfortunately if City do want to sell, everyone knows he has/had an attitude which can be problematic. That’s reflected by the fact there’s not exactly a ‘race’ to sign him.


Thanks again TJ.

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Brilliant read once again Dave 👍. I guess it's comes down to has his attitude changed and will Pep and the team forgive him. and welcome him back. No doubt he's a good player just needs to get his attitude right.

Haven't tried to log it so yes it's me again Doug Henshaw the invisible man.😁

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Unknown member
Jul 24, 2023
Replying to

We’ll just go along with the Invisible Man ID shall we? It works well 😀 I never again thought I’d see Cancelo in a City shirt, after his exit last January, but here we are.


I know his departure was not in the best of circumstances - massive understatement - but who knows? He has the ability but sadly the ‘attitude’ - unless he’s learnt lessons in humility in 2023.


Pep will know what’s best for the dressing room and we’ll find out in due course.

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Fred Nelson
Fred Nelson
Jul 23, 2023

Great read, Dave.

He's a quality player, no doubting that. The attitude is unlikely to change, so I would be happy to cash in on him. We had our greatest ever season without him.

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Unknown member
Jul 24, 2023
Replying to

Yes, statistically you’re absolutely right Andy, but as the City fans know, the run of form - which ultimately landed all of the big prizes - occurred immediately after Cancelo’s departure.


He was creating disharmony within the dressing room. It was no coincidence that we performed better when he’d gone to Bayern.


Nonetheless, he obviously contributed with his appearances but the negative elements seem to far outweigh the positive.


He’s a talented player who would now be best deployed in a more attacking role. Whether Pep actually wants him around remains to be seen.


Thanks for reading and commenting.

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Kamikaze Kid
Kamikaze Kid
Jul 23, 2023

Cancelo saga continues, his advisors need to drum into him that if he a chip on his shoulder to remove it very quickly if he wants to remain playing for the best team in the world. Why would you want to go anywhere else? Saudi for the money and no other reason, pointless at this stage in his career. Personally, I'd prefer him to sort his head out and stay, quality player.

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Unknown member
Jul 23, 2023
Replying to

Ultimately it’s not Cancelo’s decision, it’s all on Pep. Fans will trust Pep to get it right, either integrating him into the team in a more attacking role or, achieving the best price and departure.


I never thought there was any chance of a permanent return, but not entirely written it off at the moment.


Thanks for your comment.

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