Discover more from Cannon Stats
Adam ruins everything: João Cancelo
Arteta. City. Cancelo? No.
Adam Ruins Everything is a recurring series where Adam explains why popular rumors or fan theories can’t - or shouldn’t - happen. He doesn’t have a thing against guys named João in general.
It’s a rumor that just won’t die: Arsenal are interested in João Cancelo! The extremely talented fullback is on Arteta’s list, as he looks to build further depth at the back. And of course, Arteta knows him from City, so it’s meant to be.
Cancelo is undoubtedly a talented player. In the height of his time at City, having provided 7 assists in the Premier League last season with attacking flair and superior ball control, although his defending is Zinchenko-esque. But this move wouldn’t actually make sense for Arsenal, and for once it’s not just about money with me. Although … that is a lot of it.
Cannon Stats is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
He’s a problem
Is that direct enough?
Cancelo, simply put, thinks very highly of himself. And to some degree, that makes sense. But his ego grew to the point that having started 19 games between the Premier League and Champions League, as of January, wasn’t enough.
He was such a problem that Pep Guardiola loaned him to Bayern Munich without replacing him, despite being in a treble race and basically only having Nathan Aké and 18-year-old Rico Lewis in reserve. You may remember he even started Bernardo Silva for multiple games as a left back.
Even if you find Cancelo a significant upgrade to Ben White and Oleks Zinchenko, he’d be playing about the same for a club that is, obviously, lower on the totem pole than City. Doesn’t bode well, if you ask me.
So Cancelo is a problem at City, established. It’s likely that he moves to his new club and tries to restore his reputation, right? Wrong!
It took until the first week of March for him to butt heads with another strong-willed coach, this time Julian Nagelsmann. There were reports that the Portuguese defender wasn’t training hard enough, with Nagelsmann instead preferring Josip Stanisic for a game against PSG. Stanisic!
Thomas Tuchel’s appointment has brought some additional playing time, but Bayern still have no interest in activating their £60m purchase clause.
As if all this isn’t enough, there’s also his one-year stay at Juventus. Cancelo joined from Valencia in 2018 but was already persona non grata by the following summer. Reports from the time said coach Maurizio Sarri found him “tactically naïve,” and that both Sarri and previous coach Max Allegri thought he was too error-prone in defense to be a long-term fit. There were whispers about him being involved in frequent arguments as well.
So that’s Cancelo the man. Now, money!
He’s too expensive
City had no interest in keeping Cancelo but still held out on their loan until Bayern agreed to a £60m buy clause. Now, he hasn’t lived up to it, so it’s possible City would consider less, but that doesn’t mean they’ll give him away. They have that kind of power.
That’s too much of an outlay for a club that is looking at £150m+ in spending on midfield, with an attacker and other defenders also needed.
But if we can sweep the fee aside for a moment, there’s also the matter of his wages. Cancelo’s contract, which expires in 2027, pays him £250,000 per week. That would be second to only Gabriel Jesus at Arsenal (or soon to be third, when Saka signs, per reports). In terms of pure talent it’s not the most unjustifiable wage, difficult as it would be for Arsenal.
But there’s also the matter of the current fullback wage sheet. Zinchenko and White, on £190,000 and £120,000 per week respectively, are currently two of Arsenal’s top earners. Cancelo would make three of the top 6 or 7 earners for the club who play fullback, which isn’t a prime wage position. Not an efficient use of money to me.
Could Zinchenko move into midfield, or White to centre back, to provide the minutes? Perhaps, but there’s very little time open at CB for right now, and all reports point to multiple CM signings this summer. Neither bodes well for making one of those guys move, particularly when they’re both coming off campaigns where they were key contributors to the club’s best season in 15 years.
If you ask me? This is agent talk. Cancelo needs a move, and Arteta is an easy link, with his time at City and his upwardly mobile project. But Cancelo’s agents would be better off looking somewhere like PSG.
I’m simply not buying it, and if Arsenal did follow this up, I’d consider it a big and expensive mistake. There’s very little reason to think Arsenal wouldn’t simply be club number four where he wears out his welcome.