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Cancelo talks Yamal, Cubarsi, Xavi, Fermin, Osimhen ahead of Barcelona vs Napoli



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Of the two Joaos who arrived in Barcelona last summer, it is safe to say that Cancelo has been the more successful one. The player on loan from Manchester City started the season as the team’s primary right-back option, but circumstances have forced him to shift to the left side of defence in recent games.

Despite the change in position, the Portuguese international continues to be one of Xavi’s best players on the field. His combination with the midfield and ability to churn in crosses has helped the Catalans time and time again, and all appears set for Barcelona to pull the purchase clause on his signing.

Speaking to La Gazzetta dello Sport ahead of Barcelona’s UCL clash against Napoli, Cancelo heaped praise on the team’s young starlet Lamine Yamal who has been the point of difference in many a recent game.

“Lamine Yamal is an incredible player. Playing for Barcelona at 16 is not for everybody. He is a special talent, but talent is not enough in football.”

Continuing on what one required to make it big in football, especially at a young age for a club with the stature of Barcelona’s the on-loan star said,

“You need mentality, and, from what I see, Lamine has it. He’ll have a great future if he remains focused and those around him help him keep his feet on the ground.”

The defender then went on to list out some of Barcelona’s other academy stars who have risen to prominence this season and in whom he saw great potential.

“Watch out for Cubarsí and Fermin. La Masia is doing a great job and developing great players.”

Moving on to the topic of Barcelona’s season to this point and the constant battle the dressing room has had to engage in with hurdles, Cancelo explained how the season was not easy for them.

“Not really. The coach [Xavi] said he’ll leave [at the end of the season], and the team has had highs and lows for the entire season. It’s difficult to explain this dynamic, but football always gives a chance for redemption, which is what a win over Napoli would represent.”

“Our season would have a different aspect. There are bad and good moments in football and we must remain united and positive,” he added.

Barcelona’s struggles this season after dominating and winning La Liga last time around come across as puzzling. Interestingly, Napoli find themselves in a similar situation as they have failed to do justice to their title of being ‘defending champions’ of Serie A.

“Napoli comes to mind, too. Football is a strange sport. Their season has been tough as well. They won the Scudetto playing spectacular football. After that, they had to change coach, but it wasn’t the right one,” Cancelo said about the similarity of situations.

“They changed again, and it didn’t work, so they changed again. It happens. Sometimes, you try to do things, but they don’t work. Napoli have the same pressure to win as Barcelona,” he added.

The Manchester City star also took a peak back towards the first leg, where he felt that Barcelona did not punish Napoli enough despite their dominance.

“We kept them alive after the first leg. We played greatly in the first half and should have scored more goals. We were superior, but they didn’t do much, and now we are on par.”

Towards the end of his interview, the Barcelona defender took a deep dive into Napoli’s squad and outlined who the Italians’ most dangerous sources of threat were.

“Matteo Politano? They are exceptional talents. Osimhen had a half-chance in the first leg but still found the net. He’s one of the best strikers in the world.”

“There’s more. I like Zielinski, but he is not on the UEFA list and Lobotka. I faced him with Portugal, and he’s a great player,” he added.

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