Gary Neville has confirmed that he recommended Joao Cancelo to Manchester United when the full-back was playing under him at Valencia, but the Red Devils declined to make a move.
The Manchester City star has enjoyed another excellent campaign, with his seven assists the third-most by a defender in the Premier League behind only Liverpool duo Andy Robertson (10) and Trent Alexander-Arnold (12).
Neville briefly managed Cancelo six years ago during his ill-fated spell in charge of Valencia in the 2015-16 season and immediately knew he was looking at an exciting talent.
In fact, he even made contact with his old club about the ‘special’ Portugal international and encouraged United bosses to sign him.
But his recommendation fell on deaf ears – Louis van Gaal was in charge at the time, though he would be sacked not long after and replaced by Jose Mourinho – and Cancelo left Valencia for Juventus two years later.
Speaking about the City full-back during an Instagram Live, Neville said: ‘He’s unbelievable, he’s brilliant.
‘I think Cancelo is a brilliant full-back. I never had any doubts when I was at Valencia for those four months that he was going to be a top player.
‘I literally told United about him. I said, “Honestly this boy is someone special you’ve got to look at getting him.”
‘And then he went to Juventus to be fair, [Valencia] sold him for £40million to Juventus, and then obviously City bought him for £60m. He went to Inter Milan [on loan] as well.
‘He had two big moves, he’s got massive experience now, he’s got great courage on the ball, left and right foot, brilliant player.’
Neville dropped a hint last year that he had told United to sign Cancelo, saying about the defender: ‘I had him as a very young player at Valencia but you could just see he was an exceptional talent.
‘I made calls back to England, you could imagine to which club I’m talking about, [saying], “If you’d ever take a young player, he’s one you’d take”.’
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