When a player as good and important as Joao Cancelo leaves a team fighting for titles in the middle of the season, it’s usually quite surprising.
In trying to explain the unexpected turn of events, the main narrative was that the Portuguese defender fell out with his manager and became a negative influence on the team.
Cutting such a player loose is usually the right thing to do at a time like that and so many Manchester City faithful welcomed the move as one geared towards sanitising the team.
Anything short of that did not make any sense as no team should be letting such a key player leave over frivolous reasons.
Speaking with O Jogo, the Portugal international stated: “As I already said, he (Guardiola) found a way to play, after the World Cup, in which he started playing with a full-back more inside, where I also played, and he liked what he saw with Rico and Nathan.
I respected his decision because I have to and this is a team of great footballers.
Any player wants to feel important, wants to play and anyone who says otherwise is lying.
A competitive player, like me, who aspires to win titles, just wants to play.
It’s like Pep said, I need to play to be happy.
Cancelo then revealed exactly how things transpired.
Both player and manager wanted the best for each other and thought an amicable separation was the best solution.
But I’m very grateful to City and the fans,” – said Cancelo.
It was up to City to make it clear to the player that he will have to settle for less playing time.
But Guardiola clearly wanted the player to follow his heart and move on, if that made him happy.
The Catalan manager has been steadfast in his belief that a player was free to leave at any point they chose, if that made them happy.