Joao Cancelo to Arsenal: Man City may be forced to sell to rival despite title threat

Joao Cancelo to Arsenal: Man City may be forced to sell to rival despite title threat

Given the success of Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko this season, it is no surprise that Arsenal would love to sign Joao Cancelo.

Jesus and Zinchenko have had a transformative effect on Arsenal since joining from Manchester City last summer for a combined fee of around £75million.

The pair have helped the Gunners go from top-four contenders to title challengers, with their influence telling both on and off the pitch.

It begs the question as to whether City would sell to Arsenal again given they are now one of their biggest rivals.

Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko have been a huge since joining from Man City (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko have been a huge since joining from Man City (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

“Pep and Manchester City will never sell a player to Arsenal ever again,” declared former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher earlier this season when speaking on The Overlap in Focus.

“The reason why Oleksandr Zinchenko was sold to Arsenal is because of Pep’s mate - and he didn’t feel Arsenal were a threat.”

Mikel Arteta and Pep Guardiola are close friends and that helped with negotiations last summer, but equally crucial was Jesus and Zinchenko’s desire to leave the Etihad.

The pair wanted first-team football and City were happy to facilitate that, not least because of their services to the club over the past few years.

Ideally Jesus and Zinchenko would have moved abroad, however the greatest interest came from the Premier League.

Chelsea and Tottenham were also chasing Jesus, while West Ham were interested in Zinchenko and were proposing to play him as a midfielder.

The fact is in the current economic climate, the Premier League remains the best market for selling players and it is why City may have to accept that is Cancelo’s most likely destination.

Beyond that, there are few clubs in mainland Europe who can afford him, with Bayern Munich already out of the running after deciding not to make his loan move permanent.

City will be aware of the Premier League’s dominance in the market and their other major sale last summer involved selling Raheem Sterling to Chelsea.

Last summer Premier League clubs spent £1.9billion on transfers, nearly three times that of the second-biggest spenders Serie A (£646m).

The Premier League’s financial dominance continued in January as their spending accounted for 79 per cent of the total across Europe’s big five leagues. Chelsea spent around £288m that month, more than the combined total of all clubs in the Bundesliga, La Liga, Serie A and Ligue 1.

Cancelo would be an ideal fit for Arsenal, given he is able to play as an inverted full-back - which is a role Zinchenko has done to great success this season.

Arteta knows the Portugal international well from his time at City, while the fact he can play on either flank is also attractive.

Cancelo will not, however, come cheap as Bayern’s option to make his loan move permanent this summer was £61m. That would represent a large chunk of Arsenal’s transfer budget, with their main focus currently midfield.

Left-back could also become a vital area to strengthen, though, as Newcastle are interested in signing Kieran Tierney.

Cancelo would be a statement signing by Arsenal, who are determined to challenge for the title again after missing out this season.

At 28, the full-back is in the peak of his career and he would provide real competition for both Ben White and Zinchenko.

Arteta spoke this season about targeting signings who can take Arsenal to the “next level”. Cancelo certain fits that bill.