Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is still claiming no decision will be made on Joe Hart’s future until the end of the season.
England number one Hart moved to Torino on loan in August after falling behind Willy Caballero in the pecking order at the Etihad Stadium and seeing Guardiola bring in Claudio Bravo from Barcelona.
Hart this week told the BBC he feels “surplus to requirements” at City, while his agent Jonathan Barnett told Sky Sports his future beyond this season had not been discussed with the Premier League club.
Guardiola has refused to be rushed on the futures of six first-team players who are out of contract at the end of the campaign and, speaking ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup quarter-final at Middlesbrough, he sounded a similar tone on Hart, whose deal with the club he joined from Shrewsbury Town in 2006 expires in 2019.
“Joe Hart is a Manchester City player and we will decide at the end of the season,” Guardiola said.
“We will explain at the end of the season about all the players.”
— Manchester City (@ManCity) March 10, 2017
Caballero has replaced Bravo as first choice following a string of unconvincing displays from his colleague, although the Chile international is poised to return against Middlesbrough.
His contribution in terms of building attacks from the back was warmly praised by Guardiola after the 5-1 victory over Huddersfield Town in the previous round, even if Bravo’s efforts on Harry Bunn’s opening goal for the visitors left something to be desired.
Victor Valdes is another goalkeeper admired by Guardiola, having starred in his all-conquering Barcelona sides between 2008 and 2012, and he expects Boro’s miserly defence to be a tough one to crack at the Riverside Stadium.
“I’m not thinking about titles. Of course all the managers in the big clubs want to fight for all the titles, but now it is thinking about tomorrow – what you can do to get to the semi-final,” Guardiola said.
“The team is so difficult to make chances against because they are so stable, really well organised in those terms.
“[Alvaro] Negredo is so dangerous with long balls and Adama [Traore] is so fast on the counter.”
City could only close to within 10 points of Premier League leaders Chelsea as they were held to a forgettable 0-0 draw against Stoke City in midweek and Guardiola chose to poke fun at himself after being named Premier League manager of the month for February.
“I think [Chelsea boss Antonio] Conte’s cupboard is full, that’s why they decided to give it to someone else,” he said.
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