It seems that England goalkeeper’s Joe Harts future may no longer be at Manchester City.
Citizens boss Pep Guardiola left Hart out for a successive game in favour of Willy Caballero in City’s 5-0 hammering of Steaua Bucharest in the Champions League on Tuesday night.
The Catalan bosses’ snub has raised inevitable question marks over the keepers future at City.
A move now does not look out of the question for the under-fire star.
Has never fitted Guardiola’s style
Even before Guardiola’s arrival at the club, there was speculation that the new City boss was going to return to former club Barcelona to sign either Claudio Bravo or Marc-Ter Stegen.
The main reason for that speculation was that Hart is not the most comfortable of goalkeepers with the ball at his feet, which is an attribute essential for any player in a Guardiola team.
Hart is not terrible with the ball at his feet, but he cannot compare with the best sweeper keepers in the game for example Bayern Munich and Germany number one Manuel Neuer.
The England international obviously knows his strengths and weaknesses, but if he stays at City he will know that he has to improve this weak facet of his game to fit into Guardiola’s long-term plans or else face the prospect of leaving the club.
The 29-year-old endured a poor Euro 2016 with England, which led to question marks over his status as the Three Lions number one. His status as City’s number one has never really been in question, apart from a period under Manuel Pellegrini when he was left out of the team for a short period.
Plenty of takers
If Hart decided that he needed a change or could not adapt to Guardiola’s style at City, then there would be a pretty long queue of clubs for his signature.
Spanish club Sevilla have been linked with a move for Hart, but Merseyside duo Everton and Liverpool are regarded as the favourites to sign the England international before the transfer window shuts.
In fact, the former-Shrewsbury stopper is odds of 8/11 to be an Everton player by the time the summer transfer window shuts. Those odds are very short considering that Hart has not yet even put in a transfer request at City.
Everton are in need of a first-choice goalkeeper, despite summer signing Maarten Stekelenburg making a solid start to his career against Tottenham. Hart would be a step-up in standard to both the Dutchman and Spaniard Joel Robles.
Maybe a move to Merseyside would suit Hart, as it could give him a fresh start and he would be staying in the North West, where no doubt he has probably put down roots.
A move to Sevilla would offer the goalkeeper Champions League football, a taste of a different culture and lifestyle.
However, if he is set on staying in England, Everton under Ronald Koeman are ambitious, even if they are not in the Champions League this season. The Toffees would also have no problem meeting his wage demands.
Liverpool could offer the same home comforts as Everton, but German boss Jurgen Klopp brought in compatriot Loris Karius this summer to compete with Simon Mignolet. Karius is currently sidelined, but the Reds are unlikely to have three ‘keepers of a decent standard competing for one spot.
Big decision for Hart to make
City are reported to be close to agreeing a deal with Barcelona for Chilean goalkeeper Claudio Bravo. That would no doubt be bad news for Hart and throw his position at City into further doubt.
The 29-year-old now has a big decision to make and quickly if he wishes to move before the transfer window shuts. The decision could determine how the rest of his career goes and how he is thought of in the future.
A move to Everton or Liverpool may well suggest that Joe Hart does not want to fight for his position at City, which would be looked upon negatively by some.
However, a decision to move on could also be an acknowledgement by Hart that he knows his limitations and feels he cannot adapt to Guardiola’s style of play.
What happens in the next couple of weeks may define Hart’s club and international career. He seems like the sort of guy who is confident in his own ability, so I would not be surprised if he stayed at City and fought for his place.
If not then he would doubt be a good signing for Everton or Liverpool this summer, as Joe Hart may be Guardiola’s cup of tea, but he is still a very good goalkeeper.
Should Joe Hart leave Manchester City this summer?