Joao Cancelo landed at Barça at the age of 29 He left behind a long professional career that began at Benfica and continued at Valencia, Inter, Juventus, Manchester City and Bayern, where he was loaned out midway through last season. His desire, as he explained in his presentation, was to play for Barça and although he is still owned by City, four games were enough for him to show, on the one hand, that his dream was not a whim and, on the other hand, to giving him the reason for Xavi, the person who most insisted on achieving his incorporation.
It is common and even advisable for there to be disagreements when it comes to using one player or another to reinforce a particular position. This happens at all clubs and Barça is no exception. When it came time to choose a right-back, Deco believed that Iván Fresneda was the best option, one of the revelations last season at Valladolid. So much so that the 18-year-old player eventually moved to Sporting de Portugal, who paid the Pucelanos nine million euros for him. Xavi, on the other hand, believed more in Cancelo’s experience. In the end, both agreed on the decision and the director of the football area got to work to arrange the Portuguese’s transfer, with his agent, Jorge Mendes also played a very important role.
The numbers, but above all the sensations, are those of a great footballer. Cancelo and Barça fit together so well that he has already scored two goals in these four games, surpassing his goalscoring records at Bayern, Juventus and Inter, where he only scored half. His performance was better at Valencia: he played 91 games in which he scored four goals and provided eight assists. And at Manchester City, Pep Guardiola also knew how to get the best out of the player Thanks to a system that allowed him to be the protagonist, quite unlike his adventures in Italy or Germany, even with Nagelsmann or later with Tuchel. Of course, the relationship between the Catalan coach and the footballer did not end well.
Absolute freedom for Cancelo
With Xavi, Cancelo has complete freedom to attack, move inside, penetrate space and open up to the wing. His physical performance, which has surprised more than one person in the dressing room, allows him to play ninety minutes at a tremendous pace. The best proof of this is the two goals he has scored so far. The first goal came at 5-0 when the Portuguese scored their fifth goal in the 81st minute with a demonstration of power, technique and quality. He repeated this against Celta, this time in the 89th minute when he arrived fresh, entered the penalty area and took advantage of Gavi’s transfer to complete the comeback. Previously, in the 85th minute, he had already supported Lewandowski.
Since joining Barça, Cancelo has had a direct hand in a goal every 95 minutes. an average that very few defenders in the world can achieve. It remains to be seen whether these numbers will continue, but it is obvious that with Xavi, a decisive and differentiated footballer, he has been in a lame position for too many years.