João Cancelo transfer: Full details of the Barcelona deal

João Cancelo is on the verge of completing a loan move to Barcelona from Manchester City, with the suggestion being that this will signal the end of his time in Manchester for good. 

Barcelona and Manchester City have exchanged documents regarding the deal for Cancelo, which is reported to have an option for a permanent transfer that’s set around the €25m mark. Here are the full details of the João Cancelo transfer.

This will be Cancelo’s second loan move in the last twelve months, after he joined Bayern in January on a six-month deal, which was a shock to many given that Cancelo had played such a huge part of City’s title triumph the season before. 

Joao Cancelo barcelona transfer
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A falling out in the dressing room over limited minutes for Cancelo as Pep Guardiola changed his system of full-backs was supposedly the reason for the Portuguese defender’s unhappiness at the club and desire to leave. 

Cancelo had a relatively decent time in Bavaria, and whilst he had periods in and out of Thomas Tuchel’s first-choice XI, Tuchel went on record this summer to say that “Cancelo helped us a lot, he’s a fantastic footballer”. 

The Bayern manager acknowledged that the reason a permanent move wasn’t pursued was due to returning players, such as Alphonso Davies; and deals that had been pre-agreed, such as for Raphael Guerreiro who was signed on a free transfer from Borussia Dortmund. 

It left the door open for Cancelo to depart for pastures new, and although there was talk early in the window that Arsenal might look to bring Cancelo to North London, a deal never materialised as the club signed Jurrien Timber from Ajax instead.

So, when interest from Barcelona filtered through to the Manchester City hierarchy, a deal was struck to bring the Portuguese full-back to Catalonia this summer. 

João Cancelo transfer – Full details

After Bayern made it clear to Manchester City that they were not going to make their loan deal for Cancelo permanent, he returned to Manchester and took part in the club’s pre-season tour of Japan and South Korea. 

Cancelo featured in all three games of that tour, leading many to believe that there was a chance he could be reintegrated into the squad ahead of the new campaign. But once the Community Shield signaled the start of the season proper, it became clear that Guardiola had decided Cancelo was surplus to requirements for the European Champions. 

João Cancelo playing for Manchester City
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With Pep sticking with the system that led City to the treble last year, Kyle Walker has started all five of the Citizen’s competitive games so far this season, whilst the return of John Stones from injury after the international break will give further options on the right-hand side. 

As such, with reports suggesting that Barcelona will cover the majority of Cancelo’s wages over the course of the season, and with that option to make the deal permanent next summer, City will feel they have found the best remuneration option for a player clearly not in the manager’s plans for 2023/24.

How will João Cancelo fit in at Barcelona?

Barcelona’s need for quality at full-back, especially on the right-hand side, has been well-documented, so it’s a relatively safe bet that for the most part, Cancelo makes that spot his own very quickly. 

Over the last year, we’ve seen Xavi utilise both Jules Koundé and Ronald Araujo in the position, with varying degrees of success, but both are centre-backs by trade and Koundé in particular has made his feelings known that he feels more comfortable in the middle of the park. 

Araujo has put in some immense defensive displays on the right, notably when given the opportunity to shadow Vinicius Jr. in a number of El Clasico matchups, but when Barcelona are more in the attacking ascendancy, his limitations going forward on that side have hamstrung Barcelona’s build-up down the flanks. 

Barcelona's current right-back options Jules Kounde and Ronald Araujo, who João Cancelo will hope to start ahead of
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Sergiño Dest was supposed to help answer those questions, but the USMNT international never really settled in Barcelona after his acquisition from Ajax. He spent last year on loan at Milan, but struggled for game time, and now has made a loan transfer to PSV Eindhoven, with the Dutch club holding an option to make that deal permanent. 

There is also the question of Sergi Roberto, now Barcelona’s club captain after the departure of Sergio Busquets this summer, who started at right-back against Villarreal at the weekend for the Blaugrana, but even he is a converted central midfielder shoehorned into the spot. 

Added to this is the versatility that Cancelo offers. Alejandro Balde has made Barcelona’s first choice left-back spot his own after Jordi Alba joined the ‘Golden Era Barcelona’ exodus to Inter Miami to play alongside Busquets and Lionel Messi, but there is a lack of depth behind him. 

Marcos Alonso has featured at times at left-back, but there’s a real suggestion that his best position is now playing on the left-hand side of a centre-back pairing, a viewpoint strengthened by a worrying performance at left-back against Villarreal, where he was targeted successfully by Quique Setien’s side on a regular basis. 

Cancelo’s ease in possession, as well as his ability to make things happen in the final third, should bring Barcelona much more attacking verve down the right hand side. Both of Barcelona’s right-wing options – Raphinha and Ferran Torres – like to cut inside to make things happen, with Raphinha opening up the game on his preferred left foot and Torres often driving directly towards goal and becoming more of a second striker. 

João Cancelo drives with the ball whilst playing for Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga last season
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This should allow a gap for Cancelo to target, flying forward on the overlap in order to hold the team’s width and create from the touchline areas. With Lewandowski as the main central target and the ability of Barcelona’s midfield to flood forward into dangerous positions, it feels like a natural fit, and one in which Cancelo should be able to create a myriad of good scoring chances. 

The Portuguese international racked up six assists and a goal in his 21 appearances for Bayern on loan last season, showing that ability to make things happen in the final third has not wavered, even in a season that he would admit to not going perfectly to plan.