Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has admitted Joao Cancelo was unhappy with his role at the Etihad, prompting his surprise switch to Bayern Munich.
Cancelo was part of the PFA’s Team of the Year for the last two seasons after establishing himself as one of the best full-backs in the world, but he struggled for minutes this season and has joined Bayern on an initial loan with a view to a €70m permanent deal.
Asked about the build-up to Cancelo’s exit, Guardiola insisted he had nothing but positive words for the full-back but admitted disappointment over his minutes led to an exit.
“First, I wish him the very best in his four months,” Guardiola said. “Next season, I don’t know what happens.
“An incredible figure in the last two leagues we won. After the World Cup, we had a pre-season and decided to play a little different. I liked what I watched, so I gave more time to other players. His personality, like mine, he loves to play. He trains the best but the situation, he doesn’t play much. In the last year, [he was] one of the players with more minutes. He needs to play to be happy, so we decided to let him go to 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, skill, everyone knows it. It happened one or two days before the window. Always, I am pleased with the squad.”
Guardiola admitted that brief talks had been held over finding a replacement left-back but, with Nathan Ake and Sergio Gomez on the books, the decision was made to stick with the current squad until the summer at least.
“We had talks, but they took three minutes,” the boss confessed. “I said, ‘do you have something?’. Txiki [Begiristain, club director] said no, so I said to wait.
“We could go to the market and pay huge amounts of money, but I prefer to wait a few months until the end of the season. 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 that we should do this. With [Manuel] Akanji, I said we should have another central defender. Nathan was injured, Ruben [Dias] too, John [Stones]. We had this opportunity. In this case, completely different.”