Valencia splashed the cash in the summer spending well over €100 million on a host of players. However so far this term, few have delivered the goods and the club have sacked their manager, exited the Champions League and find themselves in mid-table in La Liga. Right Back Joao Cancelo though has been one of the few bright sparks.
€85 million alone has been spent by Valencia on bringing in four players from Benfica over the past 12 months with a little help from powerful Portuguese agent Jorge Mendes. Of the quartet Cancelo was the least high profile and perhaps that has helped him find his feet quicker than some of the other new-boys who have been under more pressure to perform.
Joao Cancelo did also have the benefit of a year on loan at the Mestalla last time around and although his game time was limited he got to know the culture of the club and having barely even featured for Benfica prior to that surprised many with his progress.
Silencing the doubters
There were still plenty of doubters though when a hefty €15 million fee for his services was agreed in the summer. However despite his team’s struggles the talented 21 year old has impressed and quickly built up quite a reputation as one of the most promising young defenders in the division.
The Portuguese Under 21 international is an elegant player and offers a genuine threat going forward with a turn of pace and the ability to beat opposing players as well as an eye for a pass and ability to deliver it which is often rarely found in a full-back.
Not the finished article
He’s not the finished article defensively, but his pace often gets him out of trouble when he is found wanted in a positional sense and that side of his game will certainly improve with experience.
With Gary Neville now in charge at the Mestalla, he has a manager who was one of the finest right-backs in Europe for close to two decades and the perfect role model. With youth very much on his side, Joao Cancelo can only get better in the coming years and a debut for the Portuguese national team is likely to be his next logical progression.
Written by Mark Sochon
Follow Mark on Twitter @tikitakagol
Check out his brilliant blog on all things La Liga, Tiki-Taka-Gol!
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