Joao Cancelo treatment could highlight Man City’s January transfer priority – Joe Bray

City are rarely active in January, unless it is to look ahead to the following season, like when they signed Julian Alvarez in 2022 or Gabriel Jesus in 2016.

There have been instances, though, when an opportunity arises and City abandon their preference to do their most important business in the summer, and make a move for a player to improve the squad immediately. Aymeric Laporte is a prime example.

“I think we&aposre going to finish [January] in this way,” Pep Guardiola said last week, regarding the chances of any January signings.

“I don&apost know what&aposs going to happen but since I arrived in Abu Dhabi [at City&aposs recent remaining camp] with the sporting director, with Txiki and everyone, there wasn&apost any name on the table.”

Of course, City are masters of the long-term plan and will have a list of names in each position who could be available. Guardiola is more likely referring to the fact that none of those names would be expected to be on the market this month.

And after five summer signings, City are well stocked in most positions to ensure they don&apost need to panic buy in the January market that often favours the seller over the buyer.

However, they will also be aware that they sit seven points behind Arsenal in the league after drawing with Everton on Saturday, ahead of a formidable fixture schedule in January that won&apost let up in February or March when the Champions League returns.

If a late deal presents itself – like those for Sergio Gomez and Manuel Akanji in the summer – it may make sense to pursue it. And one position jumps out more than most, with Gomez failing to so far provide a level of competition at left-back that City may have hoped.

Gomez has only featured ten times for City and is yet to start a league game. He&aposs remained on the bench for the last six Premier League fixtures, and has only played twice in the 11 games since his red card at Copenhagen in the Champions League.

In recent games, though, it&aposs not been Joao Cancelo who has been starting in his place, which would be understandable. Cancelo has found himself equally out of favour following his similar last-man red card in the home win over Fulham.

Cancelo has only started one of the five outings since that game, with centre-back Nathan Ake preferred at left-back for all three games since the World Cup. Cancelo has also been overtaken, possibly only temporarily, by Rico Lewis on the right side.

He may be recalled and rediscover his best form to provide City the flexibility they like on the left-hand side. But he has also lost his place for Portugal in recent weeks and he has as many cards this season for City as he has registered assists. In truth, he&aposs had better runs of form than his current malaise.

Cancelo had been hailed as a much-needed solution to their left-back issues, but since the World Cup Ake has been the man starting in that position over him, with Gomez seemingly not a better option than a centre-back.

So while City are not expecting any major additions in January, they will surely be on the lookout for any longer-term targets. Surely one of those will be a left-back, so if there is any chance of fast-tracking a deal this month, that feels like a position that could be prioritised, if any are.

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