If you'd said this time last year that a Joao Cancelo transfer to Barcelona was on the cards then you'd have been called crazy when you consider how vital he used to be to Pep Guardiola and Manchester City. However, the Portuguese international has suddenly found himself surplus to requirements at the Etihad. A loan spell at Bayern Munich, now looks like it may be followed up by a permanent transfer to Barcelona.
The Catalan giants have been relatively weak at right back for some time so it’d make sense for them to take advantage of a market opportunity to sign one of Europe’s best in the position. Following a reported fall-out with Pep Guardiola, Cancelo is pretty clearly surplus to requirements in Manchester but City will still want to hold out for a sizable fee should he depart on a permanent basis.
Manchester City signed Cancelo from Juventus in 2019 in a deal that saw Danilo move in the other direction. He was valued at around £60m as part of that transfer and City were keen to move him on for a similar figure. However with Bayern Munich opting not to take up the option to sign the player, reports earlier this summer suggested the English club have slashed their asking price to around £34m.
Barca to spend Dembele funds on Cancelo?
Right now, Barcelona are in no position to pay that kind of sum for a player with more funds needed to be raised just to register new signings such as Ilkay Gundogan. However with the club reportedly in line for a €100m Qatari cash injection and close to selling Ousmane Dembele to PSG, they could soon be able to target fresh additions.
The Ousmane Dembele PSG deal should see the Catalan club bring in €50m which would more than cover any move for Cancelo. Although, it remains to be seen whether or not they’d be willing to meet Manchester City’s asking price and Barca could also consider a loan deal which the European champions may reluctantly accept if there is no other interest in the right back.
Funds are still tight for the 2022/23 La Liga winners with their extensive debt problems well documented and a costly renovation of Camp Nou starting this summer which will see Xavi’s team play home matches at the Estadi Olímpic in Barcelona for the duration of this campaign.
The attacking right back Barca need
🚨🗣️ Xavi: “We need a pure right-back now.” pic.twitter.com/0aVGzpPwEs
— Managing Barça (@ManagingBarca) August 2, 2023
Xavi has described the need for what he calls “a pure right back”. Last season, he mostly used Jules Kounde in the position and the Frenchman did well despite his natural role being in central defence.
The imminent departure of Dembele though adds to the sense that Barca will lack genuine width on the right flank and Joao Cancelo could instantly solve that issue. Not since the end of Dani Alves’ first spell at the club in 2016 have they had a truly convincing attacking right back but at his best, Cancelo could certainly make a big impact in La Liga.
As recently as the 2021/22 season, he was a key figure for Manchester City starting 36 of their 38 Premier League games and contributing 7 assists. At 29, Cancelo should still have a few really good years of football left in him and he could be a smart addition for a Barcelona side that despite their title win, were at times short on creativity and goals last term.
Barcelona are also reportedly close to signing another right back in the shape of Ivan Fresneda from Real Valladolid. The 18 year old did feature prominently in La Liga last season, but is more likely to be used in a back-up capacity initially should he move to Catalunya and his arrival is unlikely to put the brakes on any move for Cancelo.