Joe Hart’s days as Manchester City’s first-choice goalkeeper could be numbered if a report by the Daily Mail is true.
According to the Mail, Barcelona are coming around to the idea that they will sell one of their goalkeepers to Manchester City this summer. 24-year-old Germany international Marc-André ter Stegen and 33-year-old Chile international Claudio Bravo are the two shot-stoppers in question, and the feeling is that neither will be content to share the role with the other at Camp Nou. Both goalkeepers have been heavily linked with City recently, with Mundo Deportivo claiming Bravo could join City imminently and the Mail on Sunday saying similar of Ter Stegen.
Ter Stegen is the most difficult of the two to sign, because of his age and a £68 million release clause that Barcelona are unwilling to negotiate on, unless the player himself causes a fuss. According to the Mail, the German is Pep Guardiola’s preferred choice, but the report also states that he would take Bravo over and above Joe Hart. To put it simply, Pep would gladly have either goalkeeper instead of Hart, and City are in a position to pursue the one Barca decide will have a lesser role.
Joe Hart is not a man to shy away from challenges, having seen off Costel Pantilimon and Willy Caballero, but both Ter Stegen and Bravo would represent a whole different level of competition. Both are high-level goalkeepers able to play the demanding style of Barcelona and new City boss Pep Guardiola. Guardiola is very demanding and specific about how his teams play football, and Joe Hart distribution skills have long been a concern. Both Barcelona keepers had a pass completion success rate of around 84% last season, compared to Joe Hart’s 52%. This is influenced by Barca goalkeepers always playing it short, as Pep will demand, but Hart’s footwork is not one of his main featuress.
Hart is one of City’s most popular players and it would initially be a hugely unpopular decision to replace him – but Guardiola has a history of making tough decisions to create teams in his image. The other name persistently linked with City, Gerónimo Rulli, would find it much tougher to displace Joe, but either Barcelona goalkeeper would most likely find themselves starting the 2016-17 season between the sticks for Guardiola’s side.