Portugal international has struggled in his first season with the Premier League champions and has been linked with a move away to Barcelona.
Manchester City have spent more than £140 million ($174m/€160m) on full-backs in the past three years and it’s an area that they could look at yet once more when the transfer window opens.
Full-back is a position that is tactically key to Pep Guardiola’s attacking philosophy but, with the Catalan’s tactical detail, it can be annoying both physically and mentally.
Generally, full-backs are requested to play very excessive and wide, helping attacks or assisting to win the ball back deep in the opposition half. At different times, they are required to step inside and act as an auxiliary central midfielder or, on different occasions, drop deeper to be a part of their central defenders to form a back-three.
The responsibility of the position means not every full-back is suited for the position and explains why Guardiola has gone through so many players in the role in the course of his 4 years at the club.
Bacary Sagna, Pablo Zabaleta, Gael Clichy and Aleksandr Kolarov all lasted just one season before they had been jettisoned in their 30s the following summer after Guardiola’s arrival. Danilo and Fabian Delph followed them out of City two years later after combined performances in the position.
Last summer’s signing Joao Cancelo is the latest to face an unsure future with the former Juventus defender struggling to make an impression in his first season at the Etihad Stadium.
There have been links to a potential swap deal involving Barcelona’s Nelson Semedo – a player that City had been staring at when he was with Benfica before he moved to Camp Nou. Sources have indicated that the Spanish giants would be open to letting the 26-year-old depart if they can find a appropriate replacement, which Cancelo could be.
Cancelo had been linked with a move away from City in January with former club Valencia and Premier League opponents Tottenham believed to be interested.
He has made just eight Premier League starts since his arrival even though Guardiola insisted he was offered for the long term.
Certainly, he wouldn’t be the first player to take a season to adapt to the coach’s methods simply as Bernardo Silva and Riyad Mahrez have done before.
“This player we bought him for many years, not for six months, however what happens happens,” Guardiola stated in January. “As I said, I do not know what will happen in a few weeks, and in the summer we will discuss.
“If a player wishes to leave, it is simple. The agent has to call to the club, arrive at an agreement, and he will depart — and if he would not get an agreement, he will remain here.”
City already have a new right-back arriving at the club in the summer after highly-rated teenager Yan Couto agreed a five-year deal.
The 17-year-old, £13.6m ($17m/€15.5) signing from Coritiba starred for the Brazil team that won the FIFA Under-17s World Cup final November and there are excessive hopes that he could have a massive future with the club, after they beat Barca to his signature.
But he could head out on loan subsequent season to further his improvement and acclimatise to European football.
Meanwhile, Spanish full-back Angelino is expected back at the Etihad Stadium after spending the second half of the season on loan in Germany with RB Leipzig.
The Champions League quarter-finalists have an option to buy the 23-year-old for £25 million ($31m/€28.5m) and he made a good impact before the Covid-19 outbreak brought soccer to a halt.
There remains uncertainty over how the pandemic will affect soccer finances and transfer values however the academy product insists he wants to fight for his place at the Etihad. “I’m nonetheless a City player and I don’t give up on getting a place there,” he stated to La Voz de Galicia in March.
Guardiola’s other options appear far more secure. After two seasons severely disrupted through serious injury, Benjamin Mendy is getting back to his best form since his £57m ($71m/€65m) move from Monaco in 2017. And Oleksandr Zinchenko continues to be a success after moving to assist out at full-back following Mendy’s injury setback, even if City’s defence hasn’t seemed as resolute this season.
On the right hand side, Kyle Walker continues to be Guardiola’s first choice after seeing off the threat from Danilo and this season Cancelo. However, the 29-year-old is set to be disciplined by the club after breaking the UK government’s lockdown rules.
That misjudgement, for which he later apologised, could see him having more time to center of attention on his club soccer with England manager Gareth Southgate interestingly left “seething” by the incident.
He was already dealing with challenging opposition for the spot from Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold and Manchester United’s Aaron Wan-Bissaka and has not been called into an international squad considering the UEFA Nations League tournament last summer.
None of the full-backs at City can be sure that life will carry on as regular as soon as the soccer suspension is subsequently lifted.