The desire to play regular first-team football is one top-class players everywhere share. Joao Cancelo is no exception. It’s no fun sitting perpetually on the bench while the season passes you by. Sometimes, the success of the team can serve as compensation. A player can accept a bit-part role in the team and take solace in the fact that he is part of something special.
At other times, being constantly in the thick of things is preferred. The desire to play overrides any other considerations. It’s no secret that Danilo was not satisfied with a place on the bench while at City. The Brazil international remained a second thought as long as Kyle Walker was fit and in form. He only featured when the Englishman needed a rest, or in the Cup games.
That was not good enough to secure a place in the ever-competitive Brazilian national team. So he sought a way out. Moving to Juventus provided the perfect solution. That’s because the Italian side was ready to let go of first-choice right-back, Cancelo. After being left out of the squad for some time including missing out on the Copa America party while he was at City, the 28-year-old has been recalled to the Brazil squad. His regular playing time with the Bianconeri has led directly to that.
Although Cancelo’s place in the Portugal setup is not under threat just yet, his lack of playing time will be a concern sooner or later. For a player many may consider to be as good as, or even better than Walker (at least technically speaking), the Englishman has been in top form this season. That makes it unlikely that manager Pep Guardiola will dispense with him in order to give the Portuguese playing time.
Suffice to say that as long as Walker keeps performing at his current level, he will remain first choice. Cancelo will have to settle for cameo appearances in the league while getting starts in the domestic Cup competitions. But will that represent progress for the Portugal international?
Having expressed his desire to play with the best and improve his game at City, he can hardly do that on the sidelines. But he will have to wait. Question is: for how long? The fact that some key players (including defenders) have been out injured and he still can’t get a place in the starting line up suggests the wait won’t be over anytime soon. At 25, he should be at the peak of his power. But the man keeping him out is 29, in form, and vastly experienced in the league.
Cancelo must use this time to learn.
Moreover, the season just started. There are still over 40 matches for City to play in all competitions. He will certainly get his share. International teammate Bernardo Silva was not expected to feature much for City last season. But he ended up having an amazing season. Sooner or later Cancelo will also get his opportunity to stake a claim for a regular place in the starting XI.