City have been linked with a handful of goalkeepers since news of Pep Guardiola taking over broke in February. Each report had a consistent theme of Pep wanting a rival for Joe Hart with good ball-playing skills, a feature he likes in his goalkeepers.
Lately, after rejections from Marc-André ter Stegen and Gerónimo Rulli, talk of a goalkeeper to challenge England’s number one has died down. Former Barcelona shot-stopper Víctor Valdés has been linked with a move, but at this stage, as we saw during his United spell, he is more of a reserve option who is happy to warm the bench regularly.
Today’s Daily Mail is reporting that City feel greater urgency than ever to make sure they strengthen the goalkeeping position after several high-profile mistakes by Hart at Euro 2016.
The latest name in the papers is another Barcelona goalkeeper, the impressive Claudio Bravo, who has just won the Copa América Centenario with Chile. According to the Mail, he is the one City could turn to now as they seek not just a back-up for Hart, but someone to really push him, and possibly even replace him between the sticks.
Barcelona have two high-level goalkeepers to keep happy, and are said to have made Ter Stegen promises to keep him away from Manchester City. This could force 33-year-old Bravo towards the exit, the newspaper reports. Bravo is very comfortable with the ball at his feet – he wouldn’t play for Barcelona otherwise – something that can’t really be said of Joe Hart. Bravo has also worked with City’s goalkeeping coach Xabier Mancisidor before, when the pair were at Real Sociedad.
The Mail notes that work done on the training pitch could help Joe Hart become a more Pep Guardiola style sweeper keeper, with Barcelona stopper José Manuel Pinto used as an example. Guardiola also likes goalkeepers who are strong in one-on-one situations and who have positive dressing room personalities, two boxes Hart ticks.
However, the Mail believes strengthening the position has become a pressing matter for director of football Txiki Begiristain after Hart’s Euro 2016 performances. This sounds quite reactionary after his mistake against Iceland yesterday, but with Willy Caballero on his way out, a new keeper is definitely on the way. The big question is how good and how demanding will this goalkeeper be – someone to lightly worry Joe Hart or someone to really make him sweat?