Man City have agreed a €16m deal to sign Barcelona goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, according to Spanish news outlet Marca.
The Chilean shot-stopper has been sublime for the Catalans since joining from Real Sociedad for €12m in the summer of 2014.
Bravo went on to break a La Liga record by not conceding any goals from the start of the season for an astonishing 754 minutes, and is highly regarded by the Barca faithful.
The 33-year-old kept an admirable 16 clean sheets in an attacking side on their way to title glory in 2015/16, and his acquisition is a coup for City despite their considerable wealth.
The vast majority of Pep Guardiola’s signings say they have joined him at Barcelona, Bayern and now the Citizens because of the opportunity to work with the Spaniard, and there is little doubt that Pep’s presence in Manchester is the deciding factor for Bravo’s move.
In Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, Luis Enrique has a more than competent replacement. The German’s final season with Bundesliga side Borussia Monchengladbach was nothing short of incredible, with his performance in the 2-0 defeat to Bayern in January 2014 one of Ter Stegen’s finest ever performances.
Since joining Barcelona, the 24-year-old has had to contend with a peripheral role but Bravo’s departure grants him the opportunity to shine between the posts in Catalonia.
Although Bravo’s imminent arrival at City is good news for their supporters and for Ter Stegen, one man who is looking glum this morning will be Joe Hart.
The man from Shrewsbury was signed from his boyhood club in 2006 and has made 266 appearances for the club. The England international suffered a disastrous slump in form once before for Man City but grew stronger from it and emerged as one of the top flight’s best keepers.
However, in recent months Hart’s performance have left more than a few questioning his credentials as one of the world’s top goalkeepers.
A disastrous European Championship campaign for England was mirrored by Hart’s personal performances on the pitch.
He allowed Gareth Bale’s free-kick to slip past him in the victory over Wales, whilst also making another unforced error in allowing Kolbeinn Sigþórsson to finish past him in Iceland’s shock win.
A worrying pre-season resulted in Guardiola’s decision to drop Hart in favour of Willy Caballero in the 2-1 triumph over Sunderland, and the signing of Bravo will only fuel speculation that Hart will not stay at the Etihad beyond this month.
However, former England coach Gary Neville has told the former Birmingham City loanee not to make any impulse decisions after a torrid week.
‘My advice to Joe Hart would be to stay exactly where he is.
‘Pep Guardiola’s obsession is to play out from the back at all costs. That’s not the strongest part of Joe’s game. He’s not incapable, but it’s not the strongest part of his game.
‘The easy thing (for Hart) would be to throw your toys out of the pram, create a problem with the manager and let this noise that will happen in the next few weeks (play out) and say we will part company.
‘I would say, for a year or two, he should stay.’
Man City play Steaua tonight in the first-leg of their Champions League qualifier in Romania.
Hart has travelled, but Ivorian Yaya Toure will again be absent in another interesting move by Guardiola.
Callum Connolly, Pundit Arena.