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Joao Cancelo: How Manchester City career came to an abrupt end with shock move to Bayern Munich.

Joao Cancelo: How Manchester City career came to an abrupt end with shock move to Bayern Munich.

Juan Cancelo leaving Manchester City transfer to Bayern Munich is one of those transfers that surprises the football world.

Given the sudden nature of it all and the size of the clubs and the player involved, questions are inevitable.

Why would City let one of the best players in their squad leave with no intention of signing a replacement, given they hardly have any full-backs?

Will City sign a replacement? (It’s simple: no.)

So how did it get to the point where things deteriorated so rapidly during January that City felt they would be better off in the second half of the season without Cancelo?

This result was not a single major flashpoint, but rather a series of smaller incidents and an overall pattern of behavior that City found disruptive that began after his return from World Cup.

The 28-year-old’s reaction to being on the bench vs Arsenal in FA Cup on Friday night – the third game in a row in which he was left out of the City XI and not involved – was the straw that broke the camel’s back for Pep Guardiola. The move to Bavaria was hastily arranged over the weekend.

Here’s how events unfolded throughout January before a loan deal was agreed on Monday with Bundesliga the champions, who have a €70m (£61.6m, $76.3m) purchase option.

Chelsea away, January 5 – “Cancela was furious”

At the heart of this issue is the fact that Cancelo doesn’t like it when he’s not playing football, and he doesn’t hide those feelings particularly well. In fact, after just a few months in the City, he wanted to leave Barcelona due to lack of playing time but ended up staying.

A year later, at the end of the 2020-21 season, he was one of a number of players who irritated Guardiola by showing displeasure at not being included in the squad. Cancelo lost his seat for League of champions semi-final second leg and final — and his feelings were clear.

After Cancelo signed for City in 2019, Athletic spoke with several of his former coaches and others who have followed his career and this result was not entirely unexpected.

He has been known for some time to be “like a volcano”, according to one source close to City, who, like others in this article, spoke on condition of anonymity to protect his position. Even those close to him do not dispute that he is unhappy when he is not in the games and that he speaks his mind.

The Portuguese returned from the World Cup in a funk, as he did not play as much as he would have liked. After starting all three of his country’s group games, he was on the bench for the next two in the knockout stages, only coming on after half-time in the quarter-final loss to Morocco.

During the World Cup, Portugal’s Record published an article titled “Sense of injustice haunts Cancela” and talked about how “disappointment was written on his face” as he sat on the bench in the 1/8 vs Switzerland. It went on to say that the player felt “misunderstood” and “undervalued properly” by his coach Fernando Santos.

Like others in the City squad, incl Kyle Walker and Phil Foden, Cancelo is back in action after returning from Qatar. All three started at Stamford Bridge on January 5, but Walker and Cancelo were taken off at half-time.

“I’m very sorry for Joao, I asked him to play in a position he’s not used to,” Guardiola said afterwards, deploying him on the right wing.

Cancelo was furious. In the locker room, his teammates tried to calm him down, but eventually things went downhill.

“When he’s in a good mood, he’s great,” another source close to the team says. “When he’s in a bad mood, he’s a bad boy. He considers himself the best and does not accept any advice or corrections.

Sources close to Cancel say he is a good man with a good heart, and many of his teammates confirm that.

Southampton away, January 11 — Low point on the field

A few days later, Cancelo was benched again in the FA Cup game against Chelsea, which did little to improve his spirits – and it was evident in training.

As in previous similar situations, his feelings were clear and the coaching staff felt it affected the level of his performance during City’s build-up, more so than immediately after his return from Qatar.

As part of the process to get him back to his best, Guardiola has chosen Cancelo to start for Southampton in the Carabao Cup at right-back, with Walker at centre-back. Walker was again substituted at half-time and Cancelo played the whole game.

His performance was terrible – a low point – but Guardiola stuck with him for the Manchester derby a few days later.

However, after that John Stones returned to action after a brief absence and established himself as one of City’s relatively few good post-World Cup performers. Nathan Ake also belongs to that group and given Consel’s application for training during this period, he was an obvious candidate to make way.

Tottenham and Wolves at home, on January 19 and 22 – from the bus to the bench, alone

Cancelo then sat out the 4-2 win against Tottenham, a match perhaps more remembered for Guardiola’s public attempts to correct the complacency that had crept into his squad.

Cancelo was far from the only target of Guardiola’s wrath – he insisted everyone was to blame – but the Portuguese has caused the manager several headaches.

After the Spurs game, City’s players had no doubts about Cancelo’s feelings – because he told them. The fact is that he gave way to an 18-year-old Rico Lewiswho made his place at right-back after the World Cup was a major source of consternation.

It was at this point that Guardiola and his staff became particularly concerned as they sensed that Cancelo’s behavior was beginning to affect the group at a time when Guardiola began his public efforts to save City’s season by putting his team’s mentality in the spotlight.

Of course, one man’s “ruining influence” is another’s “strong personality,” and Cancelo would doubtless dispute that.

The coaching staff picked up on the wrong body language, perhaps not the most serious of football offences, but it meant he was in serious breach of Guardiola’s ‘no ugly faces’ policy – which requires players to maintain an attitude when not playing.

Cancelo is known to be reluctant to come on as a substitute and doesn’t act the way Guardiola wants him to when he’s not in the team (Photo by Martin Rickett/PA Images via Getty Images)

When Cancelo was named on the bench for the game against Wolves, his feelings were not limited to the dressing room: shortly after arriving at the Etihad Stadium, he walked from the team bus to the home dugout and sat on the bench alone. This was more than previous incidents in previous years.

Ake was left on the bench for this game, but that was it Aymeric Laporte who played left-back with Lewis on the right.

Lewis was substituted at half-time, but Ake came on rather than Walker or Cancelo, both of whom remained on the bench for the entire game.

Arsenal at home, January 27 – “Didn’t pay attention in meetings”

Last year in the City, Gabriel Jesus, Alexander Zinchenko, Bernard Silva and Ake were out of the team and/or about to leave, but were essentially smiling through the pain.

Cancelo could never countenance such a scenario, and if City were happy to ditch the more fun-loving figures in their squad, it’s no wonder they would do so for someone seen as more disruptive.

Guardiola’s former assistant Juanma Lillo was a key figure for Cancelo at City in this regard, usually managing to calm him down when differences of opinion arose with the manager. Lilo, however, left in the summer.

It would be easy to write off Cancelo as a bad character, but that would be harsh, even if he is emotional when he is not playing and it has led to problems at several of his clubs.

Guardiola emphasized that Cancelo shares the same childhood love of football as Foden, who always has the ball with him – and on January 1, 2022, Cancelo played with a scar on his head in a key league match against Arsenal. The night before, in front of his wife and little daughter, he was attacked by four intruders who wanted to steal jewelry.

He is a strong but complex character and last week he asked his agent Jorge Mendes to find him a departure.

Things came to a head when Guardiola left him out against Arsenal on Friday. After that, the staff felt that Cancelo did not pay attention to the tactical meetings and did not listen to the instructions of the coaches.

Guardiola and his staff had had enough: after weeks of similar incidents and actions, they felt he needed to move on.

After the game, Guardiola was asked about Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta’s decision to leave several of his key players on the bench. “Bernardo didn’t play, Kyle Walker didn’t play, Mr. Cancelo didn’t play,” he replied. “If we lose, you’re going to say why didn’t they play?”

It would take a bit of reading between the lines to expect the transfer to take place within the next 48 hours, but “Mr. Cancelo” is a pretty big hint at the situation.

It was the same when discussing Ake’s recent form: “Not one person in the dressing room… maybe… ah, I don’t think so… nobody’s happy for him.”

Midway through his speech, Guardiola seemed to have the thought that someone might not be entirely happy with the arrival of the new left-back, but he shrugged it off.

In retrospect, these examples are similar to the post-match interview in March 2021, when Guardiola said: “The players who help me a lot this season, I will save less. The rest will be on the dock.” It soon became clear that Raheem Sterling questioned his team selection on the same day and was dropped from the squad for the next game.

On Saturday, Cancelo posted a photo on his Instagram story with the words: “Don’t let anyone dim your shine.”

Cancelo and Guardiola spoke and it was agreed that a transfer would be best. Once that was decided, it was fortunate in a way that Bayern Munich went ahead.

On the one hand, City’s decision to let their star left-back leave in the middle of the season without a replacement – six months after allowing Zinchenko to leave – clearly leaves them with no options, and it could cost them this season. This is, after all, a one-man-watched player Athletic spoke for this article as a better decision-maker in the final third than most strikers.

On the other hand, they decided that if Cancelo stayed, the team would be negatively affected. If Bayern didn’t sign him, they would have another problem to deal with.

Cancelo won two Premier League titles and a League Cup with Manchester City (Photo by Tom Flairers/Manchester City FC via Getty Images)

It’s not an ideal scenario by any means, but in Ake and Lewis, City do have cover at full-back that they didn’t necessarily expect to have in the summer and, given the situation, would prefer to move forward that way.

Bayern, for their part, have been big fans of Cancelo for several years and were happy to swoop in on a player they never expected. Wednesday marks one year since Cancelo signed a two-year contract with City.

There is a clause of €70m to make the deal permanent in the summer, and although reports in Germany insist Bayern will seek a deal for less than that, it is unlikely that Cancelo will return to Manchester.

Everything developed very quickly.

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