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It may have taken a while for Joao Cancelo to settle in and earn his right to start in a very competitive Manchester City squad, but he is now a fundamental part of their success. His performances in recent weeks for City have been some of his best since his arrival in the summer of 2019.
He has recorded four assists from left-back so far this campaign in the Premier League which already equals his assist numbers from last season. He has started every league game so far this campaign and has been part of a back line that has kept seven clean sheets in just 11 games. Now those are just the basic numbers and whilst they are impressive reading, it only scratches the surface of how impressive Cancelo has been so far this season.
At times Cancelo has been the main attacking threat and the most likely to create an opening despite playing in a side with the likes of Phil Foden, Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva, and Jack Grealish. His form has also spiked in his last two appearances for his club, providing 5 assists in those games.
Firstly, against Club Brugge last Wednesday evening, I saw him live at the Etihad produce a faultless performance. As well as three assists, he had a ninety-one percent pass accuracy, made three interventions, won two out of two tackles, and created ten chances. The most eye-catching was a beautifully curled cross onto the head of Riyad Mahrez who had the simple task of nodding home at the back post.
To produce a performance like that deserves praise but considering Manchester City’s inconsistent league form, the Manchester derby on Saturday lunchtime was a much more pressurised situation. However, that far from fazed Cancelo who produced another two killer assists with his wand of a right foot as City dismantled their pitiful neighbors like it were a training session. Ole Gunnar Solkjaer might have been asking for it, but it still took ruthlessness and brilliance from Cancelo to produce both goals in such a vital game.
He is in the form of his City career and I said before a ball was kicked that he will win player of the season. From his performances so far in this campaign, he has to be in the conversation.
Cancelo has all the attributes to be the best left-back in the world, he’s reliable defensively and is a joy to watch going forward. He’s a big asset for Pep Guardiola because when new signing Jack Grealish and Kevin De Bruyne aren’t on song, (like they haven’t been so far this season) Cancelo can produce that creativity that would otherwise be missing.