Fabrizio Romano Explains Why Manchester City Star Snubbed AC Milan

    Fabrizio Romano has explained why Manchester City full-back Joao Cancelo refused to join AC Milan despite compatriot Rafael Leao’s earnest request. According to Romano, Cancelo only wanted to sign for Barcelona whereas Milan also never approached City with a formal proposal for the Portugal international.

    Rafael Leao Wanted Joao Cancelo, But Barcelona Had The Edge

    One of the most sought-after full-backs in Europe, Cancelo fell down the pecking order in the second half of the 2022-23 season at Manchester City. He spent the second half of the 2022-23 season on loan at Bayern Munich as City went on to lift the Treble. According to some reports, the Portuguese full-back fell out with coach Pep Guardiola, but neither party confirmed the belief.

    In September, Cancelo signed for Barcelona in a shock loan move, overlooking Leao’s request to join him at AC Milan.

    In his Daily Briefing column for CaughtOffside, Romano claimed that while Leao had tried to convince Cancelo, AC Milan did not present a formal offer to Manchester City. He also said that Cancelo always wanted to play for Barcelona, which is why he immediately green-lit the switch to Catalonia.

    Romano revealed:

    It was great to get the chance to speak to Rafael Leao about a number of topics, and it was interesting to hear that he tried to persuade Joao Cancelo to join him at AC Milan. 

    “‘I was talking with Joao Cancelo and he liked AC Milan… so I told Joao: ok, come to AC Milan!’ Leao said. ‘He was at Man City, I tried… but it was difficult. It was like the perfect match for him to join our new era.’”

    He added:

    The reason it didn’t happen is because Cancelo only wanted to play for Barcelona, but also it was never a club to club negotiation. Leao spoke to Cancelo, but Milan never spoke to City also because they already had two right-backs.

    For Cancelo it was only Barca and he still hopes to stay at the club next season after joining them on loan from Man City this term.”

    How Has Cancelo Performed For Barca?

    Cancelo has had his fair share of opportunities since moving to Barcelona. Xavi has primarily deployed him as a left-back, while Jules Kounde has manned the right side. Cancelo has impressed with his work rate, stamina, and ability to pick out the right pass. He has not been flawless, however, as his defensive acumen has often come into question.

    Cancelo has sometimes been too aggressive with his pressing, leaving the door open for a counter-attack. Additionally, his performance has been decent at best in one-on-one duels with crafty attackers.

    So far, he has played 39 games for the club in all competitions, scoring four times and providing four assists. It will be interesting to see if Barca opt to make his move permanent at the end of the season.

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