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Analyzing João Cancelo’s performance and future with Inter Milan

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As the end of the season draws near, it’s decision time for Inter as to whether or not João Cancelo’s stay becomes permanent.

FC Internazionale v Hellas Verona FC - Serie A Photo by Maurizio Lagana/Getty Images

Over the summer, Inter Milan took a gamble on João Cancelo, and it appears as though the risk has paid off with him fitting nicely into Luciano Spalletti’s system. With the season coming to an end, Cancelo has made improvements in his form for the Nerazzurri to make his stay permanent.

With little money, Inter went looking to the loan-market where they were able to strike a deal to bring over the Portuguese international from Valencia on a season-long loan. Heading the other way to Spain was French midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia, two loans that had the potential to benefit both clubs.

Torino FC v FC Internazionale - Serie A
Simone Edera (L) of Torino FC is challenged by Joao Cancelo of FC Internazionale during the Serie A match between Torino FC and FC Internazionale at Stadio Olimpico di Torino on April 8, 2018 in Turin, Italy.
Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

Before his arrival, Cancelo spent three seasons with Valencia making 81 appearances in all competitions for the Spanish club; however, his production on the pitch wasn’t enough for him to crack the starting XI on a consistent basis.

Since joining Inter, the 23-year-old has made 18 appearances including six starts in Serie A competition. After a cautious integration into the squad, Cancelo has now made seven straight starts, going the full 90 mins in all of them and showing that the young defender has earned Spaletti’s trust.

In his 11 appearances as a right-back with Inter, he’s averaged 1.8 interceptions, 1.9 clearances, attempting 3.2 tackles and successfully winning 2.2 of them (all stats per 90 mins). Decent defensive numbers, but when comparing them to his time at Valencia, they’re down.

However, Spalletti’s defensive tactics revolve around possession with accurate passing being one of the components, which is where Cancelo’s form has seen improvement. With Valencia, his short-passing was abysmal, as he averaged 24.9 and 26.6 (per 90 mins) accurate short passes in his last two seasons with the club.

Torino FC v FC Internazionale - Serie A
Iago Falque (L) of Torino FC competes with Joao Cancelo of FC Internazionale during the Serie A match between Torino FC and FC Internazionale at Stadio Olimpico di Torino on April 8, 2018 in Turin, Italy.
Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

This season is a different story, Cancelo’s accurate short passing play has spiked up from the mid-20’s all the way to 51.4 per 90 mins. Also, although not a significant jump, his long-ball passing has improved this season as well going from 1.9 and 2.5 accurate per 90 mins respectively with Valencia to 3.3 with Inter.

Options for Making Cancelo’s Stay Permanent

His improved form and ability to fit Inter’s defensive system are why supporters would like to see the Portuguese stay. Nonetheless, the reported fee of €35 million which the club would have to pay to make a move permanent is a hurdle that could prevent this from happening.

Whether or not Canelo remains with Inter could come down to the final matches of the season as the squad pushes for a spot in the Champions League next season. If they can hold onto their current place, then the decision to pay the fee could become a more easy pill to swallow.

With the money that would come in from qualifying for the Champions League, Inter could look to improve their squad rather than stay the course. Thus, opening the door to the possibility of Cancelo staying in Italy.

Another way is for funds of players sold to help contribute to the cost of keeping Cancelo. Reports are that Valencia is quite happy with Kondogbia and could trigger the buyout which would net Inter €25 million from Valencia; giving them ammo to keep the players like Cancelo who are here on loan.

If qualifying for the Champions League or having Valencia buy their castoff occurs, the club did secure a €300 million in bonds that will grow over the next four years. It brings hope that Inter can do some spending over the summer, which begs the question, is Cancelo worth the price tag Valencia slapped on the loan for Suning?


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