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João Cancelo: has the Manchester City defender struggled at Bayern?

2NGMB6N Bayern's Joao Cancelo, center, kicks the ball during the German Bundesliga soccer match between Borussia Moenchengladbach and Bayern Munich at the Borussia Park in Moenchengladbach, Germany, Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)


The Bundesliga title race will resume after the international break with Bayern Munich in a state of precariousness after ceding top spot to Dortmund and parting ways with head coach Julian Nagelsmann.

Defeat to Bayer Leverkusen last weekend meant Bayern had won just five of their last ten matches in the Bundesliga, while rivals Dortmund smashed six goals past Koln, and led Bayern to replace Nagelsmann with Thomas Tuchel.

  • 66.6 passing grade, position rank of 25th
  • One clean sheet in four games where he started
  • Won 26 of 40 challenges (65%)

When João Cancelo agreed a loan switch to Bayern Munich in January, he did so with a clause attached that would allow Bayern to pay £61m ($75m) to make the deal permanent. So, has his performance enhanced the likelihood of Bayern triggering this clause in a season when they are not running away with the title?

For Cancelo, his move to Bayern seemed like the ideal destination where he figured to be a starting wing-back opposite Alphonso Davies on the left. But like Bayern’s season, Cancelo’s time in Bavaria has been mixed with an assist on his debut against Wolfsburg matched with the disappointment of Cancelo being benched in March for Josip Stanišić, as Nagelsmann flitted between 4-2-3-1 and 3-4-3.

The latter of those two formations is, of course, the mainstay of new Bayern head coach Thomas Tuchel and the formation upon which he was able to transform Chelsea from underachievers under Frank Lampard to Champions League winners.

Marcos Alonso and Reece James were two players used to great effect as aggressive attacking wing-backs under Tuchel. What will be interesting to see is if Tuchel uses Cancelo in the same way given Bayern’s first match back after the international break is against Dortmund at the Allianz Arena. Should Bayern beat Dortmund, they would regain first place in the standings and move two points ahead of BVB.

With the prospect of a 33rd Bundesliga title still within their grasp, has Cancelo performed to a standard that makes a £61m price tag appealing to sporting director Hasan Salihamidžić?

Has João Cancelo been creative in attack for Bayern?

Passing grade: 66.6 (position rank: 25th/82)

Cancelo has in six appearances so far for Bayern generated a passing grade below that of what he achieved at Manchester City. His 66.6 grade pales in comparison to that of his 2021-22 grade of 85.5, and his 2022-23 grade of 80.0 for the reigning Premier League champions.

In a low sample size of 378 minutes played, he has managed to produce a chances created per-90 rate of 1.2 which is lower than that of teammate Alphonso Davies (2.0) and other prominent Bundesliga set-piece specialists like Stuttgart’s Borna Sosa (3.2) and Leipzig’s David Raum (2.1).

As for how Cancelo fares when seeking to act progressively with the ball, his 60.7 ball carrying grade ranks 60th out of 81 qualifying defenders on a total of 39 events. Canadian international drivers has shown high quality in this area, comprised of dribbling, carries and tackle resistance, with his 86.0 grade third overall in position grading.

How has he fared in defence?

Challenge grade: 69.7 (27th/83)

A generally good challenge grade of 72.3 in the first half of this season at City has carried over into Cancelo’s time at Bayern, reflected in a 69.7 grade after winning 65% of the challenges he contested.

Over Benjamin Pavard, who leads all Bundesliga full-backs with a grade of 86.8, and Davies (75.4) have been better than Cancelo among Bayern’s options at the position.

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