Gary Neville has said that he alerted the Manchester United board to the talent of Manchester City star, Jao Cancelo, before he was signed by Pep Guardiola’s side in 2019.
Neville had the privilege of managing Cancelo during his stint as manager of Valencia, before he went on to join Juventus later.
Manchester City then paid the sizeable sum of £60 million to acquire his services from the Serie A giants, and Neville believes he could have been a Red Devil.
Speaking on his podcast for Sky Sports, the former Manchester United player said of Cancelo, ‘I love him as a lad.
‘I absolutely loved him when he was out there. There was a vulnerability about him when he was out there because he was so young.
“He’s so hard on himself, in training, I don’t know if he is still the same now. He used to be his critic. If he made a mistake, he’d throw his arms on the ground and start cursing himself and I used to say to him, ‘give yourself a break’. It’s hard enough in football as it is without being too tough on yourself, you will give the ball away, you will make mistakes, you will give goals away.
“I had him as a very young player at Valencia but you could just see exceptional talent.
“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.
“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.”
Cancelo was instrumental to City’s 2-0 win against Manchester United on Saturday, as his powerful cross into the area was sliced into our goal by Eric Bailly, leading to ab own goal.