Joao Cancelo

Manchester United legend and former Valencia coach Gary Neville once begged the Red Devils to sign Joao Cancelo.

The versatile Portuguese full-back/midfielder played his football as a youngster at Valencia while Neville was coaching the La Liga side in 2015-16.

United were advised to make a move, but Cancelo left Spain for the Italian giants Juventus in 2018 before becoming a Manchester City footballer in 2019.

“I had him as a very young player at Valencia but you could just see exceptional talent,” Neville said via Sky Sports.

“I made calls back to England, you could imagine to which club I’m talking about, [saying], ‘if you’d ever take a young player, he’s one you’d take’.

“Him and Andre Gomes, I felt, were exceptional talents that could come and grace the Premier League. Andre has had bad injuries which stopped him.

“But I think the education Joao Cancelo had in Italy would have been a good one for him. I think Italy toughens you up from a defensive perspective being at Juventus.

While the public asked questions about the Cityzens decision to play £60 million ($81m) for a full-back, Neville knew what the club were doing.

“When City paid £60m for him the only doubt I had was the fact did City need to spend £60m on a full-back again because they already had players in those positions. Not any doubt whatsoever about what this player was.

“He’s an athletic machine. He’s a brilliant runner, he’s a beautiful runner with the ball, he’s a tough kid as well. He’s strong, he’s brave in his defending, he affects the game in defence and attack. He’s delivering on what I thought he would in terms of you see players sometimes not realising their potential, he is realising his potential. I couldn’t be happier for him as a person.”

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