Joao Cancelo exclusive interview: Man City role as full-back turned midfielder under Pep Guardiola explained

Joao Cancelo is getting ready to tackle Newcastle United once more at St James’ Park this weekend, a return to the scene of maybe his greatest purpose for Manchester City. “I remember that goal well – and we won 4-0,” he tells Sky Sports.

“It was a decision of the moment. When I dribbled past one player, I saw my lines of pass. I saw my team-mates running offside so I decided to shoot. It went well. It was the right decision for the team, that is the most important thing. But it was all in the moment.”

He already had an help by that time, bringing the ball all the way down to arrange Ruben Dias. “It was a good touch but I think the defender doubted. There was a lack of communication between defender and goalkeeper. That was lucky. But Ruben took advantage of it.”

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Joao Cancelo scored a surprising purpose in Manchester City’s 4-0 win at Newcastle

Cancelo is within the health club at Manchester City’s coaching floor, going via a number of the greatest bits of final season, perusing his stats and discussing the journey that he has been on since becoming a member of this membership in the summertime of 2019. Always a expertise, now he’s a treasure.

Pep Guardiola highlights his particular skill to make issues occur. Phil Foden says he’s arguably the most effective attacking full-back on the earth proper now. Everyone else simply wonders whether or not the phrase full-back actually does justice to his role at Manchester City.

If the place modified when the full-back morphed into the winger and shifted once more when Guardiola moved Philipp Lahm inside to carry in midfield, Cancelo represents its subsequent evolution. Full-back reimagined as No 10, the workforce’s new playmaker.

Nothing summed that up higher than ‘the help of the season’ – his outside-of-the-boot move that landed on the foot of Raheem Sterling for the opening purpose towards Everton in November. “This was probably the best assist of my career so far,” says Cancelo.

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Joao Cancelo offered one of many assists of final season towards Everton

“It was obviously a great finish from Raheem, but the pass was very good because I put him in front of the goal. Even back in Benfica’s academy, I would train a lot with this technique so that I would feel comfortable passing the ball with the outside of the foot.”

That is Cancelo’s zone now. The half area. What Kevin De Bruyne does on the appropriate, he does on the left. Examine the record of gamers with probably the most through-balls within the Premier League in current seasons and there may be the identify of Cancelo alongside the creators.

“I am a defender but I have an attacking mentality,” he explains.

“I love being involved in the attacking phase. In modern football, you cannot just be a defender. You have to contribute to the attack. I am comfortable bringing the ball to my team-mates in the final third so that they can show their talent and score goals.”

One wonders whether or not the arrival of Erling Haaland will change his selections in these positions. Cancelo watches a clip of his help for Gabriel Jesus towards Liverpool in April.

“Gabriel is a great friend of mine and we knew each other so well on the pitch,” he says.

“But I am sure that it is going to be the same with Erling. Gabriel and Erling are completely different players, but Erling is adapting really well to our style of game. We are going to get to know each other’s movements in the future and replicate goals like this.”

Imagination is important.

As Cancelo strikes on to a clip from a 2-0 win over Manchester United only a fortnight previous to that magical move towards Everton, there may be one other help from an identical place. This time the method is completely different, a whipped cross to Bernardo Silva on the far submit.

“You cannot plan it beforehand, you have to react in the moment.

In this instance, Luke Shaw hesitates briefly and Bernardo moves behind his back to score a fantastic goal. “It helps that Bernardo and I’ve a fantastic reference to one another on the pitch.

“I know that when he is on the opposite side of the pitch, he will always appear. That is what he likes to do. He always does it and we understand each other very well with the national team too.

”We have this connection and we can read other’s movements.”

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In that very same sport, in that very same half of soccer, Cancelo additionally arrange City’s different purpose in that 2-0 dismantling of OIe Gunnar Solskjaer’s aspect at Old Trafford. Here, he went on the surface, his left-footed cross inadvertently diverted previous David de Gea by Eric Bailly.

“Left foot,” he says, laughing in English earlier than reverting to Portuguese.

“Again, this goes back to my time at Benfica. I am used to playing on both sides and was able to develop both feet. I can do it. I feel comfortable. In this specific example, there was a bit of luck but the important thing is that it was a goal – and in the Manchester derby.”

Joao Cancelo's altering sport under Pep Guardiola at Manchester City

It is that left aspect that has develop into Cancelo’s dwelling. The transition has been gradual. In his first season at City, he was used virtually solely on the appropriate. In his second, he would change. Last season and this, he has predominantly performed from the left.

Does he have a desire? “In this style of play at Manchester City, I feel very comfortable on the right side and the left side. I could not say I feel better on one side or the other. There is not that much difference. The team just adapts to the style of every player.”

He was not all the time so relaxed. Speaking to Guardiola about Cancelo final 12 months, the City supervisor highlighted the turning level. “He arrived at a moment in his first season when he decided he wanted to stay here for a long time.” That modified the whole lot.

“It all comes from that first season,” explains Cancelo.

“I did not have many opportunities to play in that first six months or so. But it was not up to anyone else. I had to change. It was my decision. I spoke to my family and made the change. I started to train better and things got better for me.

“I reached the extent that I’ve reached for the previous few years. It was my determination, my professionalism, my dedication, and I managed to do it with the assistance of my household, my team-mates and my supervisor. I need to hold working to remain at that stage.”

Guardiola continues to problem him with refined modifications.

“It depends on the game,” Cancelo provides. “Sometimes Kyle Walker plays more as a third centre-back so that gives me more freedom to play in the midfield and help Rodri with building the attack. Other times we will play with both me and Kyle inside.”

”Moving inside feels extra pure now. Pep has developed that aspect of my sport. It means taking over a distinct kind of defensive accountability.

“Stopping the opponent’s counter-attacks is another aspect of the game that is very important when I am playing inside.”

Newcastle United
Manchester City

Sunday twenty first August 4:00pm

Kick off 4:30pm

Is there time for an additional main evolution in Cancelo’s sport at Manchester City? Could we but see the full-back flip into the centre-forward?

“I don’t think centre-forward but maybe I could become a winger, maybe I could play as a midfielder,” he provides.

“At the end of the day, it will be the manager’s decision where I play. Wherever he puts me on the pitch I will give my best. That is the secret of this team. Manchester City as a group, we always pull together. The result of that can be seen in our success.”

Watch Newcastle United vs Manchester City reside on Sky Sports Premier League this Sunday from 4pm; kick-off 4.30pm

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