Guardiola confident Man City can cope after surprise Cancelo exit

By Sports Desk February 03, 2023

Pep Guardiola has no doubt Manchester City can cope with the loss of Joao Cancelo after he left to join Bayern Munich on loan for the rest of the season.

Cancelo was surprisingly allowed to leave the club to move to the Allianz Arena on a temporary basis on the final day of the January transfer window on Tuesday.

Bayern board member Hasan Salihamidzic confirmed the switch may be made permanent after the initial loan spell, with a €70million (£62.7m) purchase option included in the deal.

Previously integral to City with his ability to play both full-back roles and in the midfield, Cancelo started more Premier League games than any other City outfield player (36) last season as they won the title, having more touches (3,908) and attempting more passes than anyone else in the league (2,951).

But he had fallen out of favour since the World Cup, with manager Guardiola preferring the likes of Kyle Walker, Nathan Ake, John Stones and even 18-year-old Rico Lewis for the full-back roles.

Stones, Guardiola confirmed ahead of Sunday's Premier League clash with Tottenham, will be out for around three weeks with a hamstring injury.

But Guardiola is not concerned about a lack of depth at left-back following Cancelo's departure.

"First, I wish him the very best in his four months [at Bayern]. Next season I don't know what happens," said Guardiola. 

"An incredible figure in the last two leagues we won. After the World Cup, we make a pre-season and decided to play, in some patterns different. I like what I watch. I give more time to other players.

"His personality, mine, he loves to play. He trains the best, the situation he doesn't play much. In the last years one of the players with more minutes. He needs to play to be happy, so we decide to let him go to Munich.

"He wants to play every single game and hopefully he can in Munich.

"If Bayern Munich want Joao it's because he's an exceptional player. I won't say a bad word, his work ethic, passion, skills. Everyone knows it. It happens one or two days before the window.

"Always I'm pleased with the squad. Being not sure, it's better to have the money in the bank and don't be criticised to spend more."

Cancelo made his debut for Bayern in a 4-0 win over Mainz in the DFB-Pokal on Wednesday, providing the assist for their 17th-minute opener.

Asked if the club had explored signing a replacement, Guardiola replied: "We talked, but took three minutes. I said do you have something, [director of football] Txiki [Begiristain] said no. I said wait.

"We could go to the market and pay huge amount of money. I prefer a few months until the end of the season. We can do it without. In the summer we see.

"We can handle the situation in all departments. I trust the players.

"If I had the feeling, I'd say to my bosses we should do this. With [Manuel] Akanji, I said we should have another central defender. Nathan was injured, Ruben [Dias] too, John. We had this opportunity. In this case completely different."

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