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Gary Neville confirms Manchester United ignored his advice to sign ‘special’ Valencia player


Louis van Gaal was in charge of the Red Devils at the time (Pictures: Instagram / Getty)

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.

Gary’s brother Phil gives Cancelo instructions in 2015 (Picture: Getty)

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.

Cancelo could have ended up at Old Trafford six years ago (Picture: Getty)

‘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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