Pep Guardiola acknowledged Joe Hart’s status as a Manchester City “legend” before confirming the deal to bring in Claudio Bravo and seemingly end the England goalkeeper’s career at the Etihad Stadium was close to completion.
Hart collected a clean sheet on his first appearance of the season as City progressed to the Champions League group stage with a forgettable 1-0 win over Steaua Bucharest – Fabian Delph’s 56th-minute header compounding the damage Laurentiu Reghecampf’s side suffered in a chastening 5-0 first-leg reverse.
City’s longest-serving player after joining the club in 2006, Hart was warmly welcomed on to the field as captain before the home faithful sung in protest against his seemingly inevitable departure, having fallen behind Willy Caballero in the pecking order and with Bravo incoming.
Guardiola maintained his stance that he has been honest throughout what Hart forebodingly referred to as a “situation” that needed a “solution” during a post-match interview, and the former Barcelona boss acknowledged his importance to City’s run of success since ending a 35-year trophy drought with the 2011 FA Cup.
“I am so happy. I know Joe is a legend, I know how important he is for this club. I know what he did in this club,” City’s head coach told BT Sport
“He is part of the history and is still part of it because he is our player.
“In the Premier League and the cups… not just what he did on the pitch but what he did off the pitch.
“He knows, he knows when I arrived my decisions and what I think about that position.
“I am so happy about his performance and I like a lot when the people support him and how important it is. There is no doubt about that.”
When the focus shifted to Bravo, who was photographed at Manchester Airport on Tuesday, Guardiola said he would seek clarification with director of football Txiki Begiristain and chief executive Ferran Soriano over the move being finalised as City await the Premier League visit of West Ham on Sunday.
“That is almost done, yeah,” he added. “I think it’s almost done. I need to speak with Txiki and Ferran but he was here [in Manchester] and I think it is at the end.”