If a right-back perhaps should not have been a priority when Manchester City recruited João Cancelo from Juventus during the summer – Kyle Walker has long been consistent for them and Danilo was a reasonable deputy – his arrival regardless demonstrated the extent to which he is admired by one of the world’s finest managers. A further summer signing in Rodri suggested Pep Guardiola is preparing for the future and rebuilding his Premier League-winning team, but whereas Rodri will be the long-term successor to the veteran Fernandinho, Walker is widely considered to remain at his peak.
Portugal’s Cancelo represents a different option to Walker and, if the decorated individuals he often favoured at full-back during his time managing Barcelona and Bayern Munich – Dani Alves and Philipp Lahm are perhaps the very best – provide a reliable insight, he is far closer than Walker to being the style of full-back Guardiola prefers. It is City’s lack of central defensive options that is so far undermining their defence of the title. It might even transpire that Cancelo can prove the short-term solution, by freeing up Walker to play in central defence.