Manchester City have confirmed that full-back Joao Cancelo has signed a contract extension with the club that will tie the defender to them until 2027.
Cancelo has been a revelation since arriving in the blue side of Manchester, establishing himself as one of the world’s best full-backs.
Cancelo was even awarded a spot in the PFA Team of the Year for the 2020/21 campaign after his impressive displays for the club.
But arguably just as impressive is the consistency with which the full-back makes it into the City lineup despite Pep Guardiola constantly tinkering with his starting eleven. He has started all but one match for City, registering a goal and five assists in 22 league appearances.
But the defender’s versatility, as well as his talent, could partly explain why the full-back is so often found on the team sheet. Cancelo has shown he is more than capable of playing on the left or right-hand side of the defensive unit.
But things could have been very different for the Portuguese star if Manchester United had listened to their former full-backs, the Neville brothers.
According to James Robson from the Standard, the brothers reportedly recommended Cancelo to former executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward on multiple occasions, but no action was ever taken.
Gary and Phil worked with the full-back during their time as manager and assistant manager at Valencia, with both brothers highlighting the defender’s talents and urging United to sign him.
Neville managed the Spanish side in the 2015/16 campaign and according to transfermarkt, the Portuguese full-back was valued at just £1.8m in January 2015.
Even if United had waited for another year, Cancelo’s estimated market value was still just £9m, a far cry from the £58.5m paid for the defender by City.
Since these recommendations, United have signed three full-backs in the form of Diogo Dalot, Alex Telles and Aaron Wan-Bissaka for a combined fee of over £80m.
The only one of the three to see consistent game time at the club is Wan-Bissaka, but the right-back is arguably many levels below his City counterpart. Question marks remain over his attacking ability, and although he has been lauded for his defensive ability in one-on-one situations, his positioning is still questionable at times.
Perhaps with the exit of Woodward, and the success of Cancelo, United may be more tempted to take up the recommendations of former players in the future. Especially if one of the best full-backs in the club’s history is recommending a player in the same position.
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