Portugal's Joao Cancelo joins Bayern Munich from Manchester City, having played key roles in winning league titles in two different countries. - © DFL
Portugal's Joao Cancelo joins Bayern Munich from Manchester City, having played key roles in winning league titles in two different countries. - © DFL

Joao Cancelo: 5 things on Bayern Munich's new signing from Manchester City


Joao Cancelo has won major titles with Manchester City, Juventus and Benfica and is Portugal teammates with Cristiano Ronaldo. bundesliga.com takes a closer look at Bayern Munich's new signing...

1) Overcoming tragedy

Cancelo was born in Barreiro, Setubal, located approximately six miles from Lisbon. He joined Portuguese giants Benfica from local team Barreirense as a 13-year-old, entering the latter club’s renowned youth set-up in 2007 as a highly promising full-back. Benfica immediately began to develop Cancelo as a player comfortable playing on either side of the pitch.

His first-team debut came in 2012 in a summer friendly against Gil Vicente. However, soon afterwards, his world was rocked by the tragic death of his mother, Filomena, in a car accident in which Joao and his brother were also involved. Cancelo was just 18 at the time. "Today, even though she is where she is, I do everything to make her proud of me," the 28-year-old said in an interview with Manchester City’s official website. "However big our losses, we have to carry on. I read a lot of stuff about warriors and certain things really resonate with me."

Cancelo (l.) takes on Ricardo Quaresma (r.) of Porto during his Benfica days. - MIGUEL RIOPA/AFP via Getty Images

2) Spain switch

The talented full-back made his senior competitive bow for Benfica in a 1-0 league cup win – again against Gil Vicente – in January 2014. Just four months later in May, and with the Eagles already crowned top-flight champions, Cancelo was given his first chance to shine in the Portuguese top flight against Benfica’s big rivals, Porto.

The following August, Spanish La Liga side Valencia swooped and signed Cancelo on a year-long loan deal which contained an option to buy. The then teen made his league debut for Valencia in a 3-0 win against Cordoba. He amassed 13 appearances as Los Che finished fourth in the Spanish top tier in 2014/15, which helped the player to seal a permanent switch to the team that was then coached by Nuno Espirito Santo.

Cancelo (l.) spent three seasons in La Liga with Valencia. - JOSE JORDAN/AFP via Getty Images

3) Italian adventure

Cancelo experienced fluctuating form at the Mestalla over the following seasons. He managed to net his first goals in La Liga and the UEFA Champions League, while an experimental position change from right-back to the right wing brought notable improvements in the 2016/17 campaign, when he made 35 La Liga appearances, scoring once and providing four assists.

He left Spain to join Inter Milan on loan for a season, featuring 28 times for the Nerazzurri before Juventus came calling with a permanent contract the following year. Alongside his compatriot Cristiano Ronaldo, Cancelo lifted the Serie A title in 2019, providing five top-flight assists throughout a season that also brought Supercoppa Italiana honours. During his two seasons in Italy, the Portuguese player was twice named in the Serie A Team of the Year.

Cristiano Ronaldo (l.) holds the Italian Super Cup aloft with Cancelo (r.) at Juventus. - Claudio Villa/Getty Images for Lega Serie A

4) City glory

Cancelo initially found it hard to adapt to life at his new club Manchester City when the Portuguese full-back first moved to the English Premier League in 2019. However, once the transitional phase was completed, he took off under former Bayern coach Pep Guardiola. Putting in several outstanding performances at both right- and left-back during his 43 games across all competitions in 2020/21, Cancelo – with his mixture of pace, darting runs inside and defensive know-how –  helped the Citizens retain their league title and reach the Champions League final, where they would ultimately lose to Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea. The following season, he celebrated his 100th appearance for Guardiola’s team with a goal and an assist against Newcastle. Another Premier League winners’ medal was also added.

Cancelo is a two-time English Premier League winner with Manchester City. - OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images

5) Portugal honours

Having represented his country at every youth level, it came as no surprise when Cancelo was eventually promoted to his nation’s U21 team, with whom he scored once in 11 games and was a runner-up as Portugal lost out to Sweden at the 2015 UEFA European U21 Championship.

His first senior appearance came for the then European champions in September 2016 and a 5-0 win against Gibraltar. Despite being overlooked for the 2018 World Cup, Cancelo was in the Portugal team that lifted the inaugural Nations League trophy in 2019. Although Covid would force him to miss Euro 2020, he returned to make four appearances at the 2022 World Cup, where Portugal reached the quarter-finals. Cancelo has amassed 41 senior international caps for his country, for whom he has scored seven times.