Barcelona fullback remains untested by Xavi in unique position – report

Barcelona head coach Xavi
Photo by Bagu Blanco / Pressinphoto / Icon Sport

Among the many arrivals this summer for Barcelona, a certain few have stood out considerably well for the Catalan giants. The Portuguese duo of Joao Felix and Joao Cancelo arrived on deadline day in Barcelona but have since been arguably the most influential players in the current squad.

The latter in particular has completely transformed the capabilities of Xavi’s side. Operating fundamentally as a right-back but tucking into the midfield to offer additional numbers in the center of the field, his creative actions have allowed Barcelona to flourish much more than they were capable of without him.

Effective left-back

However, according to Spanish outlet SPORT, there still remains a certain utilization of the 29-year-old that Xavi is yet to test. While naturally a right-back, Cancelo has also operated as a left-back on various occasions and according to the report, they deem it to have been his best position at Manchester City.

With Kyle Walker occupying the right flank of the defense, Cancelo was shifted to the left. However, rather than lose an ounce of his quality or stability in that position, the talented Portuguese star transformed himself. Using his trivela abilities, weak foot usage, and the opportunity to cut in from the left onto his right foot, the 29-year-old showcased his elite versatility.

The Dragon’s test awaits

Consequently, as Barcelona approach their trip to Portugal in order to face FC Porto in the UEFA Champions League, Xavi has a dilemma to address. Given how fragile the Catalan defense has looked this season, having conceded 8 goals in 7 league games already this season despite having taken 23 games last campaign to concede the same amount of goals, Xavi will have the various options of Cancelo to assess.

Seasoned defense

While the natural response may be to simply trade Christensen out for Ronald Araujo, who was rested against Sevilla, it appears that other options are worth considering.

In the scenario that Xavi opts for a more mature and cautious back line, Cancelo could feature as the left-back while Jules Kounde moves to the right.

This would automatically leave both Ronald Araujo and Andreas Christensen as the central defenders. While Balde may be rested, it could allow the more experienced stars to flourish.

However, the likelihood of Xavi choosing such a back line remains uncertain given that it has not been tested before and to debut it in a Champions League clash would take a lot of nerve.

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