João Cancelo’s transfer to FC Barcelona is said to be imminent. The full-back represents a risk, to be sure, but the investment isn’t too heavy. And the potential reward is very tempting.
Cancelo was considered one of the best full-backs in the world, but last season, his reputation took a pretty significant hit. Pep Guardiola had limited his playing time, and Cancelo didn’t like it at all. He fell out with the manager and the situation became untenable.
He was then loaned to Bayern Munich, where he won the Bundesliga and put in solid performances. However, the Bavarians were not interested in keeping him for the reported €70 million it would take to activate his purchase clause.
Manchester City then, were stuck with him, which is odd to say of such a brilliant player. Barcelona were interested, lacking full-back depth. However, the reported loan fee, salary, and purchase clause were all too high from their point of view.
The latest rumors say the purchase clause will only be mandatory under certain conditions, and it will be around €30 million. A decent outlay for a player, but nothing too crazy. We still don’t know the terms of his contract, but one can assume that he will be paid pretty well. Hopefully, with the various departing players, he’ll fit under La Liga’s FFP rules with relative ease. It seems that, pending further confirmation, Barcelona stood firm and negotiated well in this case.
Cancelo is only 29 and won’t be 30 until next year. He’s not young anymore for a footballer, but he’s not old enough for you to think a clear decline is imminent either.
His attitude could be an issue, but having had his choice of which club to go to, perhaps he’ll appreciate his circumstances better.
Ronald Araujo had been utilized as a right-back, but his injury means Xavi will have to look elsewhere. Jules Koundé is available, though he prefers to play as a center-back. There’s also Sergi Roberto.
At left-back, Alex Balde is the starter but there is a lack of backup options apart from Marcos Alonso after Jordi Alba’s exit.
Cancelo can play on either side and surely will get minutes. Then, it’s a matter of making the most of them.
There’s a reason top teams such as City and Bayern were not overly interested in keeping Cancelo, but the reality is the only reason Barcelona have a chance now to have him, given the club’s financial situation, is that his stock went down over the past year.
There is an element of risk in the signing but it could turn out to be masterstroke.