Pep Guardiola says he has two full-backs capable of moving into midfield and two who will stick to a more traditional role on the flanks, as he explained the thinking behind Joao Cancelo’s recent Manchester City performances.
Against Birmingham at the weekend, Guardiola even played Kyle Walker as a right centre-back to cover the area Cancelo occupied when moving into midfield.
And Guardiola explained how he sees Cancelo and left-back Aleks Zinchenko as full-backs who are capable of coming inside and supporting the midfield, while Walker and Benjamin Mendy will offer width when needed.
“No, Alex can play there too,” Guardiola said when asked if Cancelo has given City a unique full-back option.
“Benjamin & Kyle can play in different positions so it depends on the opponent. I have to know if he can do it for his qualities. He can do it but he can do it from outside as well but this alternative that he can give us for the team is so important.”
Cancelo has been in superb form this season on both sides of defence, even when Kyle Walker has been so consistent at right-back.
Guardiola praised the Portuguese for reacting in the last 12 months after a difficult start to his City career in order to be a key option this year.
“He arrive last season, he was confused in the beginning, he expected something we could not offer him but he is a nice guy with a great heart,” Guardiola said, highlighting Cancelo’s fitness and recent performances.
“He’s a guy whose physicality is incredible, he could play again the day after a game and this is so important us to have players consistently fit.
“Last season he struggled a little bit with a new club and new ideas but now he has had more time and helps us to do something we need.
“He was tired in the last game so he only played 45 minutes but hopefully tomorrow if he tries to play he can be better than the first 45 minutes against Birmingham but he was outstanding.”