Pep Guardiola reveals early friction with ‘sensitive’ João Cancelo | Manchester City

Pep Guardiola has admitted to struggling in his relationship with João Cancelo early on before eventually coming to understand the defender.

Cancelo signed a contract extension on Wednesday that ties him to Manchester City until 2027. The Portuguese is considered one the world’s finest full-backs, but after arriving at City in 2019 there was initially friction between him and Guardiola.

“Everyone knows how important he is and what he’s done,” said the manager. “We have struggled when he arrived – we did not agree on many things, partly because of my mistakes but now I am delighted. He’s fully happy and can play here for the next [few] seasons. João can play in many positions, can play every day due to his physicality, and he’s so funny and loved in the locker room.”

Guardiola was asked what caused the friction. “Normally he’s playing every time now, that’s the main reason,” he said. “He wanted to play every time and when he didn’t wasn’t happy – he struggled with how we played, what we wanted to do, and that was the reason why but he was always a nice guy. Now he understands [and] we know each other better. But to be really clear: no arguments. João is fully happy, he wants to play every game and that’s all.

“Every player has to be treated differently. He’s an incredible person with a big heart but sensitive. I needed time to understand him, now I understand him and he’s important for us. Every player has a world and you have to understand it. He’s one of the few we have who would play morning, afternoon, night. He needs the adrenalin from playing, like Phil Foden – football is the most important thing in his life.”

Cancelo’s fresh deal follows those of Kevin De Bruyne, Ederson, John Stones, Ruben Dias, Cole Palmer and James McAtee. “This is so important,” said Guardiola. “The players know the club and we are a young team, we cannot forget that. We know them mentally – all of them love to play. Every season is different – we don’t know what will happen but the soul and the heart of the team is still young – and that’s important.”

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