Assessing Manchester City’s defensive target: Joao Cancelo vs. Kyle Walker

Although Manchester City were able to retain the Premier League for the first time in their history, you can’t help but think some players under-performed this season, with one of the most common names being Kyle Walker.

The England international, who joined City at the time as the most expensive defender in world football, has been off the boil massively this campaign, and aside from a 30-yard screamer against Newcastle United in September to claim a 2-1 win for Pep Guardiola’s side, Walker has not been at his usual best for most of the season.

With the summer transfer window open for business and a more than average club season over with for the right-back, it is not surprising to see City be linked with a number of fullbacks heading into the off-season, and according to CalcioMercato journalist Nicolo Schira, the Premier League title holders are going big.

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Schira claims that City are in the race for Juventus defender Joao Cancelo along with rivals Manchester United, with a bid of around 60m euros (£53m) required to lure the Portuguese international to the north of England, but how does the promising fullback compare to the experienced Walker?

Right off the back, it is clear to see just how poor a season the England defender has had with City this year, with only one assist to his name and an average dribble rate of 0.5 per game, a poor return for Walker in a Guardiola side that emphasises the use of fullbacks in his system as a means of attack.

Cancelo, on the other hand, has been on sensational form for Juventus this season, adapting well to the style of the Old Lady and being a constant threat down the right-flank, emphasised by his three assists this campaign and impressive 2.4 dribbles per game.

It’s not just going forward where Cancelo prevails, though. Defensively the 25-year-old fullback also impresses when compared to Walker, averaging 1.7 tackles per match compared to the Englishman’s 1.2.

The Portuguese international has the stats to not only replace Walker at City but keep him out of the side completely. Cancelo, on paper, is the perfect Guardiola fullback: able to take on defences with intelligent movement and smart passing, as well as being able to track back with pace and make the key tackles to snuff out any chances on the wings.

City might have won the league by a matter of inches last season, but if Guardiola is to retain the title for a third time next year, an improvement on Walker would be a smart first step, and Cancelo fits the bill to a tee.