Tactical Insights

Joao Cancelo names ex-Barcelona star as the most difficult opponent he faced

Barcelona defender Joao Cancelo has named Al-Hilal superstar Neymar Jr. as his toughest-ever opponent.

Cancelo came up against Neymar during his La Liga stint at Valencia as well as when he played for Manchester City. Valencia are direct rivals to the Azulgrana in La Liga and Neymar used to be one of the Catalan club’s main protagonists during his stint in Spain.

The duo clashed when Manchester City faced Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) in the UEFA Champions League, most recently in the 2021-22 season. Speaking about his most difficult opponent ever, Cancelo recently said (via Barca Universal on X):

“The most difficult player I have ever faced? Neymar.”

Neymar is one of the most skillful players ever to grace the beautiful game. He often leaves opponents mesmerized with his artistry and dazzling footwork on the pitch. Even a top defender like Cancelo has now name-dropped the Brazilian as his most difficult opponent.

Cancelo, meanwhile, joined Barcelona on loan from Manchester City on the deadline day of the summer transfer window last year. He has become a crucial player for Xavi’s side, scoring four goals and providing four assists in 32 appearances across competitions this season.

Joao Cancelo says he always wanted to be a Barcelona player

Joao Cancelo, who has played for top teams like Juventus, Manchester City, and Bayern Munich, is one of the most impactful full-backs in the world. He can operate from both sides of the defense and is a force to be reckoned with when going forward with the ball.

He has now said that Barca are the club that he always wanted to play for. The Portugal international said (via Barca Universal):

“I always wanted to be here, Barcelona are the club I enjoyed the most in my career.”

Joao Cancelo, though, is currently on loan. Barca will have to strike a deal with Manchester City if they want to sign him permanently. As per Goal.com, Lla Blaugrana are considering taking Cancelo on loan for another season.

However, according to The Sun, Mikel Arteta is contemplating bringing Cancelo to Arsenal. Arteta has a good relationship with the player from his time as the Manchester City assistant manager.

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