Barcelona’s Joao Cancelo on Manchester City exit: ‘I think they were ungrateful to me’

Barcelona defender Joao Cancelo has denied allegations of a dressing room fallout during his time at Manchester City.

The Portugal international left City to join Bayern Munich on loan in January 2023. The Athletic reported that there was not one major flashpoint that led to his departure but rather a series of smaller incidents and a general pattern of behaviour that City saw as disruptive.

Defenders Rico Lewis and Nathan Ake were routinely picked ahead of Cancelo by Pep Guardiola, but the 29-year-old, who is on loan at Barcelona from City, says that accusations of a reported dispute with the two defenders after losing his place in the starting XI are untrue.

He told Portuguese sports newspaper A Bola: “Lies have been told! I’ve never been a bad companion to them and you can ask both Ake and Rico.

“I have no superiority or inferiority complex towards them, but that’s his (Guardiola’s) opinion. I stayed because it’s not true. I think Man City were a bit ungrateful to me when they said that because I was a very important player during the years I was there.

“I never failed in my commitment to the club, to the fans and I always gave everything. I remember a time when I was mugged and beaten up and the next day I was playing at the Emirates against Arsenal. These are things you don’t forget, I left my wife and daughter alone at home terrified.

“I prefer to know that I’m telling the truth, I feel fulfilled by what I’ve done. I’m a transparent person, I’ve never lied. Life goes on and I wish them all the best, because while I was there I enjoyed my football and the team.”


How Cancelo’s relationship with Guardiola deteriorated and reached the point of no return

The Athletic reported that Cancelo’s reaction to being on the bench against Arsenal in the FA Cup in January 2023, the third game in a row in which he was left out of City’s starting XI, was a turning point in his relationship with manager Guardiola.

Cancelo swiftly joined Bayern on loan until the end of the 2022-23 season, helping the German side win the Bundesliga. He then joined Barcelona in September 2023.

Cancelo, who has played at both right and left-back this season, has made 32 appearances in all competitions, scoring four goals and providing four assists. His current deal at City expires in June 2027.

Asked if he thought that he would go on two consecutive loans after signing a contract extension in February 2022, Cancelo added: “No, I didn’t really think about it, but I’m living my life at the moment. Certain things dictated that I went on loan to Bayern Munich last year.

“I don’t regret it, even though City won the Champions League. I feel I made the right choice, that I went to a club that really wanted me, even before I renewed my contract. It was a club that gave me a lot in the six months I was there.

“I dealt with great players and the club is spectacular. Then I came here, lowered my salary and I’m not bothered by it in the slightest. This is the third time I’ve wanted to come to Barcelona and finally, I’m here.”

Barcelona president Joan Laporta said that he is hopeful Cancelo, alongside fellow Portugal international and loanee Joao Felix, will stay at the club next season.



Listen: Sam Lee and Pol Ballus explain how Joao Cancelo’s Man City career unravelled

(Eric Alonso/Getty Images)

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