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Pep Guardiola opens door to Manchester City return for out-of-favour defender



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Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has seemingly kept the door open to a shock return for Joao Cancelo into the first-team picture this summer.

The Portugal international has been largely shut out of Manchester City’s first-team plans since the return to club duties following the FIFA World Cup in Qatar across the winter months of 2022.

Having returned to the Etihad Stadium, Guardiola and his coaching staff had leaned towards a different role for their right-sided full-backs, granting Rico Lewis further time in the first-team, as well as John Stones taking up the position for higher-profile fixtures.

Amid reports of a training ground fall-out with the Manchester City manager, and showings of frustration on matchdays in the Etihad Stadium tunnel, Joao Cancelo ultimately brought an end to his time at the club by joining FC Bayern Munich on a six-month loan deal.

That agreement was then followed up by a season-long loan at FC Barcelona last campaign, and as the summer market approaches and his agreement comes to an end, Pep Guardiola has commented on what the future could hold.

Speaking to the media during a pre-tournament press conference ahead of the Trophy of Legends golf tournament in Spain, Guardiola was quizzed by local media on the future of on-loan defender Joao Cancelo – ending his spell with Barcelona this summer.

“It has to be the best for everyone,” Pep Guardiola admitted, when discussing the prospect of a renewed agreement with Barcelona for the next season. “The two clubs will sit down,” he continued.

“He is our player and, if an agreement is not reached, he will have to return in the pre-season. If he wants to stay here (at Manchester City), and the clubs agree, it will be done again,” Guardiola closed on the matter.

Manchester City are due to travel to the United States this summer for their pre-season preparations, as they embark on a four-match tour of the east coast of the country, with fixtures against Celtic, AC Milan, Chelsea, and FC Barcelona.

Pep Guardiola has previously indicated that his playing squad is likely to be heavily depleted due to 14 of his first-team players committing to the European Championships in Germany, and as such requiring extended holiday periods into the summer months.

However, there could be opportunities granted to a number of players on the fringes of the first-team picture, including James McAtee, Savio, and Yan Couto – with the latter duo fresh off the back of an exciting campaign with Girona in La Liga.