By Andy Hampson, PA
Joao Cancelo has played down suggestions a rift with Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola prompted his surprise deadline-day loan move to Bayern Munich.
The versatile Portugal full-back joined the German giants for the remainder of the season on Tuesday with a view to a permanent switch in the summer.
There have been reports the 28-year-old had become a disruptive influence in the dressing room in recent weeks after falling out of favour with Guardiola.
Yet Cancelo insists he wanted to pursue Bayern’s interest in order simply to get more match action. The former Juventus defender had made just three starts since returning to club duty following the World Cup in December.
“My decision had to do with the playing time that had been little in recent weeks,” Cancelo told reporters as he was officially unveiled as a Bayern player at a press conference in Germany.
“There was speculation that my relationship with Pep was not the best but fact is I wanted to play more. I wanted to start this new adventure as soon as possible.”
Cancelo appeared to have said his farewells to City’s supporters with an Instagram video and message earlier on Tuesday.
“Once a Cityzen, always a Cityzen. Thank you,” his post read. However, he denied this was a final goodbye to the English club, with whom he won two Premier League titles.
He said: “I enjoyed my time at City and I am still under contract with the club so I don’t see it as a final departure. I will now focus only on my five months and see what happens then.”
News of the deal came as a shock when it was first reported on Monday, with Cancelo having been a key part of City’s squad since his £60million move from Juve in 2019.
Yet City did not stand in Cancelo’s way after his representatives made the club aware of Bayern’s interest.
Our new number 2️⃣2️⃣ 🔴⚪#MiaSanMia #ServusJoão pic.twitter.com/02v3aiJtKC
— FC Bayern Munich (@FCBayernEN) January 31, 2023
With teenager Rico Lewis having excelled this season and three of his squad’s five senior centre-backs being capable of playing full-back, Guardiola feels he has adequate cover.
Bayern have confirmed the loan deal includes an option to buy in the summer, which the PA news agency understands is for a fee of £61.5m.
Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic told the club’s website: “We’re very happy that Joao Cancelo will now play for FC Bayern. We’ve signed him on loan now and have the possibility of signing him permanently in the summer.
“Joao is a player we’ve been thinking about for a while now because we very much appreciate his qualities. He’s the optimal fit in our system with his attacking style of play and dynamism.”
Bundesliga leaders Bayern are potential opponents for City in the latter stages of this season’s Champions League.
Cancelo said: “FC Bayern is a great club, one of the best in the world, and it’s an enormous motivation for me to now play alongside these extraordinary players.
“I know that this club, this team, lives for titles and wins titles every year. I’m also driven by the hunger for success. I‘ll give my best for FC Bayern.”