Manchester United may be in a different place had they taken on board Gary Neville’s transfer advice. Manchester United v Manchester City Match in Pictures Sign up HERE for the latest MUFC breaking news and transfer updates
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Manchester United reportedly chose to ignore the transfer advice of Gary Neville, who had spotted the talents of Joao Cancelo while in charge of Valencia. Years later, the Portuguese made the switch to local rivals Manchester City, and he was instrumental in their derby victory over the Red Devils on Saturday.
Pep Guardiola’s side delivered a masterclass at Old Trafford this weekend.
On an afternoon when the scoreline could have been far worse for United, City notched twice through Cancelo crosses in a comfortable 2-0 victory.
The first was inadvertently turned in by Eric Bailly, while lax defending allowed Bernardo Silva to coast in and poke home the second.
It was another duo of assists for Cancelo who is quickly cementing a reputation as one of the finest attacking full-backs in world football.
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Gary Neville has long been a fan of Man City right-back Joao Cancelo (Image: GETTY)
Neville was seemingly wise to his potential from his time as Valencia boss between 2015 and 2016.
According to the Manchester Evening News, Neville called United to tell them about a player he ‘absolutely loved’.
Both right-backs by trade, Neville and Cancelo have drastically different styles of play with the latter far more attacking, but the ex-United man could clearly see what he had to offer a top side.
Eventually, the Portuguese made a big-money switch to rivals City in 2019, and after a slow start, he is now virtually irreplaceable under Guardiola.
His double assist against United came a matter of days after notching three in one game against Club Brugge in the Champions League.
That adds to the two-goal tally he already boasts in Europe this season, with City giving him a license to fly forward and create opportunities from full-back.
Although regularly featuring on the left this campaign, Cancelo is naturally a right-sided player which is something United could benefit from given Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s recent performances.
Having widely been considered to have had a poor game on Saturday, speculation is only set to increase that United will venture into the transfer market for a new right-back come January.
Joao Cancelo put on a dazzling display at Old Trafford (Image: GETTY)
Following Neville’s advice may well have solved the problem years ago, as the former United legend said on his podcast: “I made calls back to England and you can imagine to which club at the time… saying if you’re ever going to take a player, that’s a young player you take.
“I think the education Joao Cancelo had in Italy would have been a good one for him.
“When he came to England and City paid £60million for him, the only doubt I had was did City need to spend that money on a full-back, again, because they already had players in those positions. Not any doubt whatsoever about what this player was.
“He’s delivering on what I thought he would. You see players sometimes and they don’t realise their potential, he is realising his potential. I couldn’t be happier for him as a person, because I know how tough it was in Valencia at the time when he was there, when I was there.”