Nagelsmann reveals heart-to-heart with João Cancelo, as Bayern look to bring the “joy” back to Portugal star

Bayern Munich manager Julian Nagelsmann has offered an interesting insight on his approach to building a relationship with João Cancelo, after the Portugal star lost his place with the German team.

Cancelo arrived at Bayern at the end of the winter transfer window, but was substituted at half time last month against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League and has been dropped to the bench for three successive games. Speaking in a press conference, Nagelsmann confirmed Cancelo has not always impressed in training, but emphasised a desire to help the right-back regain his form.

“There was only one training session where he didn’t train well,” Nagelsmann began on Friday. “He will have the opportunity to be a starter.”

While some may have observed Cancelo as a difficult player to manage, particularly given the rate at which he has changed clubs, Nagelsmann reveals his discussions with the player have taken on a more personal tone.

Cancelo’s mother passed away when he was a teenager, while Nagelsmann lost his father at the age of 20. Touching on the subject, the Bayern manager detailed the importance of helping Cancelo find happiness on the pitch.

“We had a very, very good conversation,” Nagelsmann said. “I told him a little about my personal background. He has a similar personal situation to mine. I tried to explain to him how to deal with it and how I dealt with it.

“I tried to convey to him what I felt at that time and show him the opportunities that you can see in that. He also continued the conversation very well, very openly. It was really good for him. After that, he returned to training very well and is happy to be back on the pitch. 

“It’s important for a football player to have fun. His game is characterised by joy and a certain lightness that he now has again.

“I think we could see that in the player’s last training session, where he didn’t make such a good impression. That’s when you see that a situation where he doesn’t play isn’t easy for him. 

“I once had a player like that at Leipzig. He was the happiest person when he played. When he was playing, I could go fishing with him and sit for two hours without any headaches. With João it’s the same thing: when he plays, everything is fine. If he doesn’t play, then it’s not okay.”

Bayern take on Augsburg at home in the Bundesliga on Saturday.

By Sean Gillen